Sullivan Co. leads region in Move Over Law citations

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Driving past a car pulled over on the side of the highway with flashing hazard lights – and not moving over or slowing down – is illegal in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s Move Over Law has been in place for more than a decade. For the first 10 years, the Tennessee Highway Patrol issued more citations in Sullivan County than anywhere else in the state, with the exception of Knox County.

Department of Safety data from 2015 to mid-December of 2019 shows Sullivan County still has the highest number of THP-issued Move Over Law citations in the region.

Officers say many people still aren’t aware of a potentially life-saving law.

“We still have issues with it. The Highway Patrol, just in Sullivan County averages around about 60 [citations] per year,” said Lt. Rick Garrison of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

In 2006 Tennessee became the 30th state to enact a Move Over Law for stopped emergency vehicles. The law was expanded in 2017 to require moving over for any stopped vehicle with hazard lights on.

Department of Safety data shows Sullivan County drivers racked up nearly 300 THP-issued citations from 2015 to 2019. That’s over 100 more than Unicoi County and more than triple from Washington County’s 85 citations.

Garrison said the numbers come down to population, the amount of four lane highways, and troopers assigned to patrol a county. Sullivan currently has 11 troopers, while Washington typically has six.

“Sullivan is always going to have more manpower working inside it,” said Garrison.

Katie Flora-Moore is former floral delivery driver in the Kingsport area who says she sees the law violated frequently.

“At least four or five times each shift, I would see somebody not abiding by the Move Over Law. People were just whizzing by,” she said. “You don’t realize how your lapse of judgement could change somebody’s life forever.”

Patrolmen say if you pull over on the side of the highway to use your phone, it’s a good idea to turn on your hazards.

“There is a lot of people that still drive distracted that are running off the roads,” said Garrison. “If you’re sitting there, that flashing light can maybe get their attention and pull them back to where they need to be on the roadway.”

Sullivan County’s 296 citations in the past five years were only written by THP patrolmen. Numbers provided by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office shows they wrote 109 citations for Move Over violations from 2015 to 2019.

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