New York traffic laws

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First off, thank you for your informative columns-I’ve had my son, a new driver read very carefully everything you’ve written concerning auto care and what to do when interacting with the police.
New York has had a law in place for a year now that dictates that if you see any stopped emergency vehicle-police car, ambulance, fire truck-on the side of the road that you move over a lane, or face a hefty fine. This law was expanded today to include service vehicles such as tow trucks. On the surface, the law would seem to make sense in that it would reduce the chances of a driver running into the stopped cop, ambulance, etc. But today there was a radio interview with a state police spokesman about these laws. He stated that the new law was very effective, and I expected him to comment on how many lives were saved and injuries avoided. His next comment gave away the true intent of these laws. he said “and over 18,000 summonses were issued”. Not a word about safety. It was such a blatant admission that the state was only concerned with generating revenue. perhaps in a future column you could address such laws?
Thanks, and a Happy and cop-free new year to you.


  1. When stopping a vehicle, in a certain midwestern state, police routinely block a freeway lane by leaving the “tail end” of their vehicle in the traffic lane, even when they could safely drive their vehicle completely off the roadway. It seems that they may have a “death wish”, or just want to harass drivers who could safely continue on…

  2. It is my theory these laws got started because a few cops were found to be at fault for their own demise/injury.

    In the years before these laws I had two cops apparently decide they wanted my car to be the instrument of their death. In these two separate instances the cops simple flung their doors open into traffic without any concern and got out. Because I am a bicyclist on instinct I am prepared for this and they got to live another day. Had it not been me but the average driver who at that moment was preoccupied by something else… each would have been dead.

    Now that these laws have become profitable, often through ‘stings’, they are being expanded. Like many other nonsense traffic laws I believe the way to fight them is civil obedience. The idea is that the laws are so absurd that the system requires people to break them to continue operating. Civil disobedience feeds the system while obedience would break it. They lose the revenue and the roads clog hurting the economic system by which these parasites still get much of their sustenance from.

    • Another angle here is that some people just stop in traffic when a cop turns on his wig wags to pull them over – rather than acknowledge the cop and proceed to a safe location.

      This is the result of both Cloverism on the part of the drivers and the now-pervasive barking Submit & Obey mentality of cops, who can be expected to escalate to Defcon1 at the first excuse.

      • After seeing various police videos and my own experiences with cops that are basically unhinged I can see why people pull/over or stop immediately.

        I don’t look for a safe spot any more because so many cops are unhinged there’s no way of knowing that doing so won’t result in a fleeing charge and a beating. They want to make a living shaking down people at the side of the road let them have their ass hanging out into traffic. If they have a problem with the spot they know what to do.

        • Yeah – I’ve come to the same conclusion. “The Law” says pull over, so pull over. Wherever. It’s sad, but as you say, extending common courtesy to the cop can lead to horrible consequences and the system will invariably side with the cop if he claims you “resisted” or “refused to comply.”

          Amen. Fuck ’em.

  3. First, let me say that I’m absolutely against issuing a ticket for failing to move over/slow down for service vehicles and police on the side of the road. However, having worked for years on telephone poles and utility easements next to roads I ALWAYS move over as much as possible to give extra room to workers on the side of the road (even cops).

    Working near a busy road with nothing but a safety cone between you and a speeding vehicle, even if the vehicle is in the center of the right lane always just feels you are in danger, even though you are likely not. It is very disturbing. Again, I don’t think there needs to be yet another law, but it should be mentioned in the driver’s manual.

    Of course, if it is a truly dangerous situation, the lane should be closed off. This involves setting up traffic cones a specified distance (the formula takes into account the number of lanes and posted speed limit), and enough cones to completely shut down the lane at the correct angle and cover the entire work area. In many municipalities you are required to get a work permit prior to closing a road. Of course it can be retroactive in the case of an emergency repair. If it is a 2 lane road, a flagging crew is necessary to control traffic.

    And if you’re ever pulled over, make sure you get to a safe spot. If the cop questions why it took you so long to pull over, make sure you explain you were looking out for his safety. I think that got me off with a warning once or twice.


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