Every year, first responders are killed or injured while providing emergency services on the side of the nation’s roadways. On average, one tow truck driver is killed every six days, one law enforcement officer is killed every month, and five firefighters die annually after being struck by passing vehicles. While the Move Over Law is effective in all 50 states, it is apparent from these
statistics that far too many drivers are violating the law on a daily basis.
The Move Over Law is designed to protect emergency responders and other workers stopped along roadways while performing their duties. The extent of whom the law protects varies by state. Traditionally, the law required drivers to yield to police, fire and emergency vehicles, but some states have expanded the law to provide the same protection to others, such as tow truck
operators, utility crews, DOT personnel and sanitation workers. Generally speaking, the law requires drivers to do one of two things when approaching a stationary emergency or maintenance vehicle with flashing lights pulled to the side of the road:
- Move out of the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency or maintenance vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent safely doing so, or
- If the road does not offer multiple lanes or it is not safe to change lanes, the driver must slow down to a reasonable or specific speed limit, depending upon local laws.
Since the specifics of the Move Over Law varies from state to state, it’s important to be familiar with the laws within the states you travel. Failure to comply can result in fines, license suspension, jail time or a combination of all three. Select the corresponding state on the Move Over America website for a brief description of penalties by state, or contact the local department of motor vehicles for up-to-date information regarding the laws where you drive.
Protect Those Who Protect You
Emergency vehicles parked beside a highway are vulnerable to crashes, even when their emergency lights are flashing. In fact, thirty percent of all crashes occur as a result of another crash. Move Over Laws provide a buffer lane for emergency vehicles parked on the roadway shoulder and the personnel working there, and actually reduce the risk of another crash. When the required clearance is given to roadside emergency vehicles, the margin of safety is increased, not only for public safety and emergency personnel, but also for motorists and their passengers. So, remember that whenever you see flashing lights on the side of the road, slow down, and if it’s safe, Move Over – away from police, fire crews, paramedics and tow truck drivers. If you make the move, others will follow.