Move Over – It’s The Law

Have you heard of the Florida “Move Over” law? Roadside and interstate traffic stops have substantial risks, and many law enforcement officers and workers have been struck and killed due to these unsafe conditions. In an effort to combat these preventable tragedies, forty-three states, including Florida, have adopted what are referred to as “Move Over” laws.

Florida law requires you to “Move Over” a lane — when you can safely do so — for stopped law enforcement, emergency, sanitation, utility service vehicles, and tow trucks or wreckers.

  • If you can’t move over — or when on a two-lane road — slow to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit.
  • Slow down to 5 mph when the posted speed limit is 20 mph or less.

When you fail to “Move Over,” you put yourself and others at risk; you could crash into a vehicle or worker.

The first part of the Florida “Move Over” statute describes how a driver should respond upon hearing and seeing the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle. The driver, upon hearing a siren, exhaust whistle, or visible blue and red lights, should yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle and go to the side of the road and clear of any intersection (as reasonably close to the edge of the curb of the roadway) as quickly as possible until the emergency vehicle has passed.

The second section of the “Move Over” law describes when a vehicle should change lanes when emergency vehicles (including sanitation vehicles, utility service vehicles, and wreckers) are stopped on a shoulder of an interstate highway or other highways with two or more lanes. In the state of Florida, drivers are required to respond differently upon encountering a roadside law enforcement or emergency vehicle with lights flashing depending on whether they are driving on a two-lane or multi-lane road. On a multi-lane road, the driver is legally required to move to one lane away from the roadside law enforcement or emergency vehicle. This allows for maximum safety during the event of a traffic stop or emergency. On a two-lane road, drivers are required to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, or 5 miles per hour in the event that the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour.

New research shows that many drivers are profoundly distracted by their phones when they’re going past first responders working accidents on the roadways. New research from the National Safety Council found 71% of drivers admitted to taking photos and texting while driving by emergency workers; that’s nearly triple the 24% who admitted to doing it under normal driving conditions. Sixty percent admitted to posting to social media; two-thirds have emailed about what they’re driving by.

And the results are increasingly deadly. Sixteen percent of drivers say they’ve struck or nearly struck an emergency vehicle or first responder on the side of the road. 40 first responders were killed on the side of the road last year, up 60% from 2017. And so far this year, 21 have died, including 10 police officers; 14 officers were hit and killed in all of 2018.

Violating the Move Over law will result in a fine, fees, and points on your driving record.  For more information, see section 316.126, Florida Statutes.

This article is written by Attorney Sam Cohen.

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