Do You Know About Maryland’s Move Over Law?

Do You Know About Maryland’s Move Over Law?Move Over Laws are designed to protect the safety of emergency responders, tow truck operators, and stranded motorists. While they remain in the shadows of public awareness, with a staggering percentage of people unaware of their existence, they are incredibly important to keeping Maryland roads safe. This lack of familiarity poses a significant risk on the roads, as compliance with these laws can be a matter of life and death. The importance of understanding and adhering to Move Over Laws cannot be overstated, as it serves as a crucial step toward creating a safer environment for everyone on the road. Increased awareness and compliance with these laws are not mere legal obligations but pivotal measures that can save lives and prevent tragic accidents.

What’s Maryland’s Move Over Law?

Maryland has expanded its “Move Over” Law, requiring drivers to move over when approaching any stopped, standing, or parked vehicle displaying warning signals on the roads. This includes disabled vehicles, and motorists must either make a lane change or slow down when encountering such vehicles. The goal is to provide enough space for the safety of law enforcement, emergency responders, and any motorist facing a roadside emergency. State Senator Jeff Waldstreicher, who sponsored the legislation, emphasized the importance of moving over or slowing down to prevent accidents and protect lives. The expanded law aims to address the lack of awareness among Marylanders regarding Move Over Laws and enhance safety on the roads. The move is particularly crucial for protecting those dealing with roadside emergencies. The new measures seek to reduce fatalities and accidents caused by distracted driving, impaired driving, aggressive driving, and excessive speed. Maryland Transportation Secretary Jim Ports emphasized the importance of extending the same protection to everyday motorists that professionals receive. Despite existing Move Over Laws, a significant percentage of Marylanders remain unaware of their existence, making awareness and compliance crucial for road safety.

Zero Deaths Maryland explains that “the original ‘Move Over’ Law in Maryland, passed in 2010, provided protection only for emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, and CHART trucks who provide motorists roadside assistance. In 2014, the law was extended to include tow truck drivers.” In the most recent expansion of the law in September 2022, “the law was expanded again to include ALL stopped, standing, or parked vehicles.”

The dangers roadside workers and emergency workers face

Just this year, a tragic incident occurred on Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as a tow truck driver rendering assistance to a motorist lost their life in a crash. The incident occurred in the northbound lanes of I-95 at Maryland Route 212/Powder Mill Road shortly after 12 p.m. The tow truck driver had stopped to assist a motorist when another vehicle sideswiped their vehicle, leading to the tow truck driver’s death.

Tow truck drivers and emergency responders have some of the most dangerous jobs, according to AAA: “On average, two emergency responders, including tow workers, are struck and killed every month by a driver who fails to obey the law by moving over to an adjacent lane and allowing the roadside rescuers the space to operate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

What are the causes of roadside and shoulder accidents?

Accidents that occur on the shoulder of roads happen for many reasons, each presenting unique challenges and dangers.

Three major causes of such accidents include:

  • Failure to move over: One of the main causes of accidents on the shoulder is the failure of drivers to adhere to the Move Over Laws. These laws require motorists to change lanes or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or other vehicles with flashing lights on the shoulder.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents on the shoulder. Motorists may become distracted by using their phones, adjusting in-car entertainment systems, or engaging in other activities while driving. When they fail to notice a vehicle pulled over on the shoulder or workers present, it can lead to collisions. Staying focused on the road is crucial to preventing accidents in these situations.
  • Speeding and reckless driving: Excessive speed and reckless driving contribute significantly to accidents on the shoulder. Some drivers may fail to reduce their speed when passing a stopped vehicle, putting both the stationary vehicle and its occupants at risk. Reckless maneuvers, such as sudden lane changes or aggressive driving behavior, can lead to collisions with vehicles on the shoulder.

Addressing these causes involves a combination of public awareness campaigns, law enforcement efforts, and promoting responsible driving habits. Drivers must remain vigilant, adhere to traffic laws, and exercise caution when encountering situations involving vehicles on the shoulder of the road.

If you find yourself needing to use the shoulder of the road, there are a few precautions you can take so you can best avoid being struck by another driver. First, avoid panic, stay focused, and recognize the problem before calmly pulling over. Take your time to avoid sudden and risky movements, first activating hazard lights to signal other drivers. Stay aware of surroundings, considering weather and road conditions, and pull off gradually, braking carefully. Maximize the distance from the highway for safety, remaining in the vehicle unless it’s essential to exit. Enhance visibility with emergency devices like flags or cones and consider a safety kit. Call for help if needed, stay cautious of ongoing traffic even after pulling over, and prioritize the safety of passengers by keeping them inside or finding a safe spot away from the highway.

The side and shoulder of the road is for emergencies, and when we’re in one, someone crashing into us only makes the original emergency even worse. You do not deserve to pay for your pain and suffering, especially when it was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness. If you or someone you loved has been in such an accident, the experienced attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. will skillfully handle your case so that you are not stuck paying thousands of dollars for your injuries. For more information about our services, or to schedule a free consultation at one of our many office locations here in Maryland, please call us or contact us today.