Korean Move Over law needs penalty point system

Home > Opinion > Columns

print dictionary print

Korean Move Over law needs penalty point system


An Junseong

Recently, the Korean National Assembly introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Road Traffic Act in order to impose a heavier penalty on Move Over violations. The proposed amendment has two major changes: (i) to increase the maximum penalty for Move Over violations, which is a fine of up to 300,000 won ($29) or imprisonment less than 30 days, and (ii) to subject emergency vehicle operators to imprisonment up to one year or a maximum fine of 10 million won for unauthorized use of such vehicles.

In the United States, all 50 states have Move Over laws, which require motorists to change lanes and slow down for emergency and law enforcement vehicles. Currently, only Washington, D.C., does not have a Move Over law. In New York, every operator is required to avoid colliding with an emergency or hazard vehicle, which is “parked, stopped or standing” on the shoulder of a roadway, displaying one or any combination of white, red, blue and amber lights. Such operator must reduce speed and move to an open lane, if possible, in order to create a buffer space.

Failure to yield right-of-way is a traffic infraction under the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law and the penalty is a fine of up to $275, imprisonment up to 15 days, or both, if convicted. A heavier penalty is imposed for repeat violators: $750 or 90 days for three or more convictions within 18 months. It is also a moving violation and three points will be added to the violator’s driving record. If the total adds up to 11 or more, within 18 months, the driver’s license may be revoked or suspended following an administrative court hearing.

In both countries, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way to authorized emergency vehicles in a similar fashion: move over to the right-hand edge of the roadway except for one-way roads and make a temporary stop to clear any intersection. There are a couple of significant differences as well. First, New York’s Move Over law sets out specific warning requirements for exercising the right of way. All authorized emergency vehicles must display red lamps and sound a siren audible 500 feet away. The Korean Move Over law does not have such requirements. Second, New York state laws apply to both approaching to and being approached by authorized emergency vehicles whereas the Korean counterpart touches on the latter case only.

More revisions to the amendment are needed. First, penalty points should be added to guarantee more effective enforcement of the Korean Move Over law. Second, the “parked, stopped or standing” case should be added in order to protect emergency and law enforcement personnel on duty from traffic accidents. It is time to move over and slow down for emergency personnel so that they can make best use of the critical time of life for others as well as themselves.

* Attorney-at-law and adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Pan-Pacific International Studies at Kyung Hee University.

BY An Junseong

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)