States approve, near passage of expanded ‘move over’ rules
May 2, 2023
States around the country continue to act to expand move-over rules to apply to all highway users.
At this time, there are 12 states that 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.
A growing trend in state legislatures is to take the same action. Already this year, three more states have adopted move-over rule changes with the list expected to grow in the coming days.
Colorado was the first state to act this year to expand the state’s move-over rule.
State law already 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.
The legislature approved 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.
Gov. Jared Polis signed into law the rule change that takes effect in August.
Action on the topic has also been taken in North Dakota.
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 approved, and the governor has signed into law, 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.
The rule revision takes effect Aug. 1.
Another state to revise its move-over rule is Virginia.
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.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed into law a bill to expand 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.
“If a driver pulls over to rest or for whatever reason that is going to improve their ability to operate an automobile, I think we ought to give them the courtesy of keeping them safe by having people slow down and move over,” Marsden previously testified.
The change takes effect on July 1.
Starting July 1st my Senate Bill 982 takes effect, and drivers will be required to make a lane change or reduce speed when passing any stationary vehicles on the side of the road. This new law will save lives and I encourage everyone to start now. https://t.co/Gk03B86Gk1
— Dave Marsden (@SenDaveMarsden) March 30, 2023
Truckers welcome move-over rule 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.
He adds that roadway users make worse the safety concern when they stop along roadsides to swap drivers, let dogs out or to take a break.
“Anyone that has ever been broken down on the shoulder sees all the vehicles that don’t get over and how dangerous it can be.”
The state of Montana also has acted to revise its move-over rule, but it 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 amber, blue, red or green lights or any temporary sign.
A committee change made to HB320 that removed a reference to “other vehicles,” which would have included cars and trucks.
Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law the bill that takes effect Oct. 1.
Action on the topic has cleared the Tennessee statehouse.
State law requires travelers to move over or reduce speed for first responder, highway maintenance and utility vehicles using emergency signals. Drivers who fail to move over or slow down for those vehicles face fines of $100 to $500.
The General Assembly has approved a bill that would add 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 bill.
HB92 has moved to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.
Indiana is another state to send to the governor a bill that would amend 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 would add “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. LL