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Emergency zone law to be enforced by state troopers

For the first 90 days since the Emergency Zone Law went into effect on January 1, the main focus for the Washington State Patrol was to educate motorists about the new law.

Starting tomorrow (Friday) Washington State Patrol troopers will begin writing tickets to motorists who fail to slow down or move over when passing stationary emergency vehicles on the side of the highway.

Troopers will not be conducting "sting" or emergency zone emphases. Troopers will ticket motorists on case-by-case basis or as incidents occur.

The state's enhanced Emergency Zone law (RCW 46.61.212) was built on an earlier "move over" law and creates a 200-foot zone around stationary emergency vehicles that have their lights activated.

The emergency vehicles include police cars, fire and emergency medical service vehicles, tow trucks and state Department of Transportation vehicles.

Under the new law, the fine will double if a motorist is speeding or fails to move over when passing through the emergency zone.

The legislation directed the state patrol to conduct an education period for the first 90 days. During this time, troopers focused on educating drivers about this new law and the need to slow down and move over when they approach and pass through emergency zones.

Washington state passed the original "Move Over" law in 2007. However, despite this change, the problem continued to worsen.

Between 2006 and 2009, the Washington State Patrol alone had 80 collisions involving passing vehicles striking trooper vehicles parked alongside the highway.

The major contributing factor in these collisions were speeding or driving too fast for conditions, followed by DUI.

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