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When their safety is in your hands: The Ted Foss Move Over law

Aug. 28, 2017

Two children hug a state trooper, who is holding a sign that reads, "My family is expecting me for dinner. #MoveOver.
​Photo: Minnesota State Troopers put their lives on the line every day to keep our roads safe. We can return the favor by obeying the Ted Foss Move Over law.

Let’s say you’re driving down the right-hand lane of a divided highway and you see that a car has been pulled over by law enforcement. And even though both vehicles are as far to the right as they can get without rolling into the ditch, they’re still dangerously close to your lane. What do you do?

If you’re like most drivers, you have the common sense and compassion to give them some room by moving into the next lane. But did you know it’s also a Minnesota State law? It’s called the Ted Foss Move Over law, and it was enacted in 2001 to protect those who protect us on Minnesota roads.

Simply put, the Ted Foss Move Over law requires that, on a road with two or more lanes going the same direction, drivers must move over one full lane from stopped emergency vehicles that have their flashing lights activated. And it’s not just law enforcement – the law covers ambulance, fire, maintenance and construction vehicles, as well as tow trucks. In situations where it’s not safe to move over (like heavy traffic), drivers should slow down.

Sure, it’s a clear, common-sense law, but how did it get its name?

Ted Foss was a Minnesota State Patrol Trooper. Yes, you read that right: “was.” On August 31, 2000, Trooper Foss was on the shoulder of Interstate 90 conducting a routine traffic stop when he was hit and killed by a passing vehicle. And despite the law that bears his name being put in place, drivers continue to endanger the lives of Trooper Foss’ colleagues by failing to obey it. In fact, just in 2017 to date, seven State Patrol squad cars have been struck while parked, and three troopers have been injured.

That’s why every year around the anniversary of Trooper Foss’ death at the hands of that careless driver, the State Patrol conducts extra enforcement. But they’re on the lookout all year long for drivers who don’t move over for emergency vehicles. The fine can be over $100, and 416 Move Over citations have been issued so far this year, along with another 1,243 warnings.

Ultimately, every State Trooper’s job is to make sure you get where you’re going safely. And although their job carries a certain amount of risk, we can help return the favor – and honor Trooper Foss’ memory – by obeying the law that bears his name.