As we get into full swing of summer, I want to remind drivers and pedestrians of their duties and rules as they apply to them. I will be writing about 5 particular rules/laws that pertain to safety while in your vehicle or traveling on the road. I will discuss the law on Texting while driving, Yielding to emergency vehicles, the "move over law", duties of pedestrians while using the roadway, and bicycle safety on the road.
Chief of Police Andrew M. Wood
Driver & Pedestrian Safety - Emergency Laws
Hancock Happenings, pp. 15-16, July 2012
Texting while Driving
There have been multiple senseless accidents and fatalities throughout the State due to drivers' texting while driving. Many drivers feel that this will not happen to them but we have seen time and time again that this is not true. I have attached the laws to the paragraphs to remind everyone of these laws.
- 265:105-a Prohibited Text Messages and Device Usage While Operating a Motor Vehicle.
I. A person operating a moving motor vehicle who writes a text message or uses 2 hands to type on or operate an electronic or telecommunications device, is guilty of a violation. A person does not write a text message when he or she reads, selects, or enters a phone number or name in a wireless communications device for the purpose of making a phone call.
II. The fine for a violation of this section shall be $100
Yielding to Emergency Vehicles
Emergency vehicles, including police, fire and ambulances, respond to calls in Hancock every day. While some calls are ordinary, others include life-threatening situations. While responding to calls, emergency vehicles often use emergency lights and sirens. Lights and sirens are used to notify other vehicles as well as pedestrians of the oncoming emergency vehicle. Notifying other vehicles and pedestrians allows for vehicles to pull over and for pedestrians to be aware of the need to yield.
When emergency vehicles respond to calls, they often respond at a higher speed than the posted speed limit. Driving in normal everyday situations can be dangerous. Responding to emergency calls at high speeds in traffic can be even more dangerous. For this reason, all states require traffic to yield to emergency vehicles. New Hampshire law states that upon the approach of an emergency vehicle, the driver of a vehicle shall immediately pull to the right as far as possible and come to a stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Yielding to emergency vehicles also allows for a quicker response by the police, fire or ambulance.
Remember these points:
- If you are driving and see an approaching emergency vehicle, pull over to the side of the road as quickly, but as safely, as possible.
- Use you your turn signal, slow down and pull as far right as possible.
- When the emergency vehicle passes, put your left turn signal on and pull back into traffic. Don't rush to pull back into traffic. It is better to be safe than to keep your place in the flow of traffic.
- When yielding to emergency vehicles, do not pull over and keep your speed at or near the speed limit. This causes the emergency vehicle to take longer to pass you. Also, breakdown lanes or the non-traveled portion of the road are usually strewn with rocks, dust and debris; the faster a vehicle goes, the more dust and debris gets kicked up leading to poor visibility and possible damage.
- If an emergency vehicle approaches on a curve or hill, do not stop in the curve or hill. At a normal speed, get beyond this area to a flat or straight stretch of the road.
"Move Over" law:
Many times when an emergency happens on the roadway or someone is working on or near the roadway or even when we are stopping vehicles for violations of the laws, drivers on the roadway fail to provide enough room for the emergency or obstruction. By not providing that room, the driver's actions could place someone in danger of being injured or killed. The legislature has enacted a law to deal with this issue in an attempt to keep people from getting hit.
- 265:37-a Motorist Duties When Approaching Highway Emergencies. – When in or approaching an incident involving a fire, collision, disaster, or other emergency resulting in partial or complete blockage of a highway, or a location where a police officer has made a traffic stop, every driver other than the driver of an emergency response vehicle, shall:
I. Maintain a reduced speed.
II. Obey the directions of any authorized person directing traffic and of all applicable emergency signals and traffic control devices.
III. Vacate as soon as possible any lane wholly or partially blocked.
IV. Give a wide berth, without endangering oncoming traffic, to public safety personnel, any persons in the roadway, and stationary vehicles displaying blue, red, or amber emergency or warning lights.
Throughout my career in law enforcement I have encountered a few pet peeves of mine. The next two topics are among those pet peeves. Many people do not understand or care that there are particular laws that pertain to pedestrians and bicyclists on the road. I want to remind these users of the roadways of these laws.
- 265:39 Pedestrians on Roadway.
I. Where sidewalks are provided it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
II. Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a way shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway. Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a way shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
III. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
Below are some reminders to bicyclists on any public way within the State of New Hampshire:
265:144 Riding on Bicycles:
- No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
- Persons riding bicycles 2 or more abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.
- Bicyclists intending to turn right or left shall not be required to give a continuous hand or arm signal if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.
- No person less than 16 years of age may operate or ride upon a bicycle on a public way unless he or she wears protective headgear of a type approved by the commissioner of health and human services.
- A bicyclist shall wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.
In January of 2009 a new law passed that applies to vehicles as they approach bicyclists.
- RSA 265:143-a Drivers to Exercise Due Care When Approaching Bicycle:
Every driver of a vehicle, when approaching a bicyclist, shall insure the safety and protection of the bicyclist and shall exercise due care by leaving a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least 3 feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, with one additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour above 30 miles per hour.
I wish everyone a safe and happy summer and please, if you see anything suspicious, report it to the Hancock Police Department at 525.4102 Ext. 40 to speak with a police dispatcher and they will have an officer respond.
As most of you know there are several scams using email, mail and telephone. Some of our town residents have encountered some form of a scam. Please keep in mind of pertinent information that should NOT be given out, including social security number, bank account information, credit card numbers or other financial information. If someone calls you on the telephone and insists that you do not contact other family members or lawyers and to send the money immediately by way of Western Union that this is a red flag. Contact the Hancock Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation or Secret Service. This is all on our website. There is also a telephone scam stating that a family member has been placed in jail in Canada and they need your help to send money, this is also a scam. If someone contacts you and mentions of a family member that is in need of money please contact other family members to verify. It is easy for people to get family information through the internet including children and grand childrens names.
Officer Melissa Hetrick
Email, Mail and Telephone Scams
Hancock Happenings, pp. 12-13, June 2012
Mail fraud is a growing hindrance throughout the country. Times are tough for many; however there are several scams out there including lotteries. Many people feel that it is their lucky day when they open that piece of mail. There are several warning signs that include send money directly to the mailing address, bank account numbers so they can direct deposit the money into your account and personal information including your Social Security Number. Please be aware that if anyone needs an immediate payment to process the paperwork in order for you to receive your winnings, this is a scam. There are many more scams out there targeting the elderly. If you encounter something that seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
You can find information on the Hancock Police Departments website. www.hancocknh.org click on Police Department link and on the bottom of the page you will see Identity theft, click on it. Please take a look at some of the noted scams that are out there now. Remember, that these people are ruthless on the telephone and will try anything to get your information. It is helpful to get contact information including a phone number from them and hang up.
Stay safe and have an awesome summer! Please, if you see anything suspicious report it to the Hancock Police Department at 525.4102 Ext. 2 to speak with a police dispatcher and have an officer respond.