More states approve expanded ‘move-over’ rules

May 30, 2023

Keith Goble


More and more states are taking steps to expand move-over rules to apply to all highway users.

Sixteen states include all road users in their move-over law. Maryland adopted the rule one year ago, joining Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Action continues this year in state legislatures across the country. Since January, seven more states have adopted move-over rule changes with the list expected to grow.


Colorado was the first state to act this year to expand the state’s move-over rule.

State law requires drivers to move over one lane or, if moving over is not possible, reduce and maintain a speed 20 mph below the posted speed when approaching or passing a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, public utility service vehicle, or a vehicle being equipped with tire chains.

Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a bill, HB1123, to add to the list stationary vehicles giving a hazard signal.

Failure to make room or slow down for affected vehicles could result in a careless driving offense. Violators would face punishment that starts at a minimum $150 fine or at least 10 days in jail.

According to a fiscal note, over the most recent three-year period, 230 people were sentenced for “failing to exhibit due care and caution” when approaching or passing certain vehicles.

“Motorists who fail to comply with this law, paired with common driving distractions, create a dangerous and sometimes deadly combination on Colorado’s roadways,” reads the Colorado State Patrol website.

The revised rule takes effect in August.


A move-over rule change is also coming to Florida.

The state’s existing rule applies protections for first responders and towing vehicles. All travelers are required to move over or slow down upon approach of affected vehicles parked along the roadside. Violators face fines up to $158.

Previously HB425, the new law extends the protection to any disabled vehicle that is stopped and is displaying hazard lights, emergency flares or emergency signage.

The change takes effect July 1. Enforcement is scheduled to begin Jan. 1.


A new Indiana law amends the state’s move-over rule.

State law includes emergency and highway personnel in the current protection. Violators face fines and a license suspension if failure to move over or yield results in property damage. Actions that result in injury or death to an emergency worker could result in jail time.

HB1050 adds “disabled stationary vehicles” with flashing hazard warning signals to the list of protected road users covered in the rule.

Violators would face fines up to $1,000.

The change takes effect on July 1.


An omnibus transportation bill signed into law in Minnesota includes a provision covering the state’s move-over law. It takes effect July 1.

State law applies the protection to stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated. Vehicles covered under the rule are ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance, construction vehicles and tow trucks.

The rule change included in HF2887 clarifies that drivers must move over for any vehicle stopped along the roadside with lights flashing. If lights are not flashing, the move-over requirement would still apply when at least one person is “visibly present outside the vehicle on or next to a street or highway having two lanes in the same direction.”


The state of Montana has acted to revise its move-over rule, but the change falls short of the comprehensive protections enacted elsewhere.

Currently, statute applies the move-over protection to emergency vehicles, police vehicles or tow trucks displaying flashing or rotating amber, blue, red or green lights or any temporary sign. Road users are required to reduce speed or move to a lane away from the stopped vehicle before passing.

The legislature approved an amended bill to add highway maintenance vehicles and utility vehicles to the rule while displaying flashing or rotating lights or any temporary sign.

A revision made to HB320 while it made its way through the statehouse removed a reference to “other vehicles,” which would have included cars and trucks.

The new law takes effect Oct. 1.

North Carolina

North Carolina currently protects law enforcement, emergency and utility workers in its move-over law. Travelers who fail to move over or slow down for affected vehicles stopped along the roadside face fines up to $250.

The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill that would include the same protection for any vehicle that is parked within 12 feet of a roadway and displaying hazard lights, road flares or other caution signals.

SB638 awaits consideration in the House.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, a new move-over rule takes effect on Aug. 1.

State law requires drivers to move over to an adjacent lane or slow down to a “safe” speed before passing emergency vehicles or transportation department vehicles with flashing lights activated. Exceptions are made for situations when safety, road, weather and/or traffic conditions do not allow.

Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, previously told lawmakers that many drivers in the state are unclear about which types of vehicles are included in the protection.

“What it clearly does not cover is a school bus, a motor coach, a tractor-trailer, or a family vehicle,” Schauer said.

He added that most drivers do slow down or move over for any vehicle sitting on the side of the highway with hazard lights flashing, but some do not.

The legislature sent to the governor a rule change that is intended to help protect the lives of all drivers on the state’s fastest roadways.

Specifically, HB1141 requires drivers approaching a vehicle displaying flashing hazard warning signals on a highway outside the limits of a city to move over a lane or slow down while maintaining a “safe speed for the road conditions.” Violators would face $20 fines.


Tennessee has also adopted a rule change.

State law requires travelers to move over or reduce speed for first responders, highway maintenance and utility vehicles using emergency signals. Drivers who fail to move over or slow down for affected vehicles could face fines of $100 to $500.

HB92 adds to the protection any disabled vehicle with hazard lights activated. Additionally, first-time violators of the rule would face fines up to $250. Subsequent violations would result in escalating fine amounts up to $2,500.

The Tennessee Department of Safety reports since 2018 there have been an average of 1,585 convictions annually for the offenses covered under the new rule.

It takes effect July 1.


Action taken in Virginia also revises its move-over rule.

Virginia law mandates that travelers on roadways with at least two lanes in one direction proceed with caution and, if reasonable, yield the right of way to emergency vehicles by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle. If a lane change is unreasonable or unsafe, drivers must “proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.”

A new law in effect July 1 expands the protection to include any highway user along the roadside displaying hazard lights, caution signs, and road flares.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, said the goal of SB982/HB1932 is safety for all highway users.

Truckers welcome long-awaited revisions

Marty Ellis, driver of the OOIDA tour truck, says most truck drivers believe in move-over rules. He points out that if a trucker is unable to change lanes, state laws across the country are vague when it comes to how much drivers are expected to slow down.

“It needs to be uniform so everybody knows and understands it,” Ellis said. LL

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