Police ramp up enforcement of ‘steer clear’ law

Search “dash cam officer crash” and the result will be a myriad of videos showing police scrambling to safety as drivers smash into their cruisers and cars they have stopped along roadways.

Derry Township Police Department’s Traffic Supervisor, Sgt. Terry Ferree, took abc27 out on patrol to show how traffic stops can be dangerous.

“It could happen to any one of us on a traffic stop, on any one of our roads,” Ferree said.

He said drivers all too often fail to obey Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law.

“A lot of times it’s just being unaware of the law,” he said. “That’s the main thing: just being aware.”

The law requires motorists to move into an adjacent lane if able, or considerably slow down when approaching all emergency situations, traffic stops and work zones. Penalties include fines starting at $250 and a 90-day license suspension if a person is struck.

While out on patrol, Ferree allowed abc27 cameras to capture a traffic stop in progress along the busy Hershey Park Drive. The officer conducting the stop positioned her car on an angle to almost force drivers to move into the left lane.

Most drivers either moved over or slowed down to allow a safe cushion for the officer.

However, when our cameras were set up on a slim shoulder along I-83 South near the Union Deposit exit, only one or two cars moved over to allow room. Vehicles flew by at speeds more than 60 miles per hour.

PennDOT officials said they are continuously reminding drivers of the law. There are reminders during state-run PSA spots on radio and TV. Many police departments, including Derry Township’s, have said they are going to greatly enforce the law.

“If we’re targeting the move over laws, it’ll be a second officer watching that first officer on the stop looking for violators as they go by,” Ferree said.

Fire and emergency crews may not have the jurisdiction to pull over drivers, but Ferree said they are able to contact authorities to investigate such violations.

Ferree said the enforcement is not about a police department trying to fine and collect, but rather educate and protect.

It’s not about writing a ticket or writing up a violator, it’s about making the roadways safer for us, for fire crews, for EMS crews,” he said. “It’s making it safe for everybody that’s out on the highway.”

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