The Move Over Law

Source: MPD01605 - Wikimedia Commons

The “Move Over Law” is a law that requires motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulances, utility workers, and in some cases, tow truck drivers. It varies from state to state, but in general, it states, if an emergency vehicle is en route, you should move to the next lane over, away from where the vehicle is, and reduce your speed to 10 to 20mph. (If the vehicle is in the middle of the road, you move one lane to the right; if it is on the shoulder, you move to the left).

When you see an emergency vehicle with its lights and siren on, do you change lanes and slow down enough? When you see a tow truck, police car, or someone changing a tire on the side of the road, do you get in the lane farthest from them? Moving over is not just a courtesy, it is intended to keep emergency and working personnel safe from being involved in car accidents and/or being struck by a car.

Source: DelDot – Wikimedia Commons

According to the Law Enforcement Fatalities Report, in 2017, traffic-related deaths were, by a narrow margin, the leading cause of death among police officers, with firearm-related deaths second. As you can imagine, anyone on the roadside is in danger of being hit, so try to change lanes, if possible, to distance yourself. Also, do not stop on the roadside and exit your vehicle unless it is an emergency, and even then, stand as far away from the road as possible to avoid being hit.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has a list of the Move Over Laws by State  as they pertain to emergency vehicles en route, as well as vehicles on the side of the road. All 50 states have a law, so if you live in the U.S. (with exception to the DC area), you should know your state’s “Move Over Law.” Motorists caught ignoring this law can expect to be fined anywhere from $300 to $1,000.