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Protecting those who protect us

Aug. 29, 2019

A trooper hugging children while holding a sign that says "My family is expecting me for dinner. Move Over. It's the law.

If you’ve ever had to stop on the shoulder of a highway for an emergency – a flat tire, say, or an empty gas tank – you know how nerve wracking it can be. Cars and trucks whiz past you at 50 or 60 mph, whipping your clothes and hair. You just have to hope they’re paying close enough attention to the road that they can avoid hitting your car or, worse, you.

This is a danger that Minnesota state troopers and other law enforcement face every day. In fact, so far this year, a total of 31 State Patrol squad cars have been hit by passing vehicles while parked on the edge of the road, and eight troopers were injured as a result.

It may seem like common sense to give emergency vehicles some room when you see them on the side of the road, but it’s also 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.

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 Aug. 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.

That’s why every year on 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 466 Move Over citations have been issued so far this year, along with another 1,513 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 Cpl. Foss’ memory – by obeying the law that bears his name.