If you see a cop or an ambulance on the shoulder of a highway, ease off the gas pedal.
That's the message from troopers, who announced Friday that they'll saturate the state's highways with extra patrols for a week starting Monday to remind drivers of the state's "Move Over Law."
The basics: Drivers must use care when they see a police car or emergency vehicle on the shoulder of a highway or road. If they're on a highway with several lanes, drivers are expected to merge away from the shoulder, leaving a lane between the stopped emergency vehicles and traffic. The only exception to the latter rule involves situations where there are obstructions or hazards preventing drivers from putting distance between themselves and stopped emergency vehicles.
State Police will field the extra patrols through April 7, while electronic signs on the state's highway system will remind drivers to slow down and change lanes when they see flashing lights on the shoulder.
Drivers who flout the law may be ticketed and face fines of up to $275 and three points of their driver's license.
That law was passed after a 2002 crash in Yonkers that claimed the life of a cop. State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose had stopped on the New York State Thruway to take a report on a minor crash when a Greenburgh man in a Jeep struck his patrol car.
The impact started a chain reaction -- Ambrose was killed when his patrol car burst into flames, while a tow-truck driver and two people involved in the original minor crash were all critically injured.
In 2012, the law was expanded to protect tow truck drivers and road maintenance crews. The amendment was prompted by a November 2011 crash that took the life of a tow truck operator helping a driver on the Thruway near Syracuse.
In 2011, State Police ticketed 13,692 drivers for violating the state's Move Over Law. In 2012, troopers issued 11,792 tickets to drivers who didn't observe the law for cops, firefighters and paramedics. They wrote another 343 tickets for drivers who didn't follow the Move Over Law when passing hazard vehicles, including tow trucks and trucks operated by road repair or maintenance crews.