In 2011, a law in Washington State began that is known as the "Move Over, Slow Down" law.
Essentially, in an emergecny zone, you need to either slow down (which you can ALWAYS do) or move over (if you can).
The actual law explains that an emergency zone is: "...the adjacent lanes of the roadway two hundred feet before and after a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is making use of audible and/or visual signals... a tow truck that is making use of visual red lights... other vehicles providing roadside assistance that are making use of warning lights... or a police vehicle properly and lawfully displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency light or lights."
The law goes on to explain that in the emergecny zone: "...proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle..." This includes scenes where someone has been pulled over and flashing lights are visible.
If you are caught breaking this law, you could face reckless endangerment charges AND have your license suspended. Fines are doubled in emergency zones as well. And, on top of that, NOT doing these things puts people in serious danger.
Case and point - this morning. Around 8:30 today, a vehicle carrying a load of sheet metal spilled it all over northbound I5 at MLK Way (super illegal, btw). It caused a major delay on I5 and tow trucks were on scene to help clear it.
While it was being cleared, one of the tow trucks was struck by another vehicle, causing a NEW wreck to block part of I5 (pictured on the left). This sort of collision involving a vehicle traveling 60mph hitting a stationary vehicle could cause serious injury... or worse.
Be smart and follow the laws - they are there to protect EVERYONE, not just to get you to work on time. When behind the wheel of a vehicle, safety should ALWAYS be #1. Click here for an awesome brochure about the law.
Pls Move over for Emergency Vehicles, I-5/MLK: tow truck was struck by a car. Right two lanes are blocked.— WA State Patrol (@wastatepatrol) December 4, 2013