'Move Over' Laws Come As Surprise to Drivers
Several letters came after I published a letter from a driver who visited Ontario and reported back on the province's tough driving laws, including the law that requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped by the roadside.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Readers should be aware similar rules apply closer to here.
A law now in effect in New Jersey requires that when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped with its red and/or blue lights flashing, or tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle displaying flashing amber lights, drivers must change lanes to a lane not adjacent to the stopped vehicle, or when that is not possible, slow to a "reasonable and proper speed .... less than the posted speed limit." Violations carry fines of $100 to $500.
Similar laws also are in effect in midwestern states, and presumably will eventually be continent-wide.
We're already down to a handful of states that lack those laws. Maryland is one of them. Yet again this year, the General Assembly failed to pass such a bill. HB 622 failed to make it out of committee in the last session.
Virginia, meanwhile, made it a misdemeanor in 2002 to fail to move over a lane or at least slow down if changing lanes isn't safe. See a copy of that law here. One criticism I've heard of the Virginia version is that it doesn't specify how much a driver should slow down. Some other state laws say drivers should reduce their speed by 20 mph if they can't change lanes.
Only three states besides Maryland now lack a Move Over law, according to Move Over, America, which lobbies for the changes. More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck along U.S. America's highways, according to the organization.
I'll share another letter about this in my Sunday column.
June 12, 2009; 2:32 PM ET
Categories: Driving , Safety | Tags: Move Over Law
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