Today the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration and AAA Mid-Atlantic joined partners including the Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland State Police, the City of Laurel Mayor and other emergency and public service agencies at the I-95 Laurel Rest Area to announce Maryland’s expanded Move Over law, which takes effect October 1.
Maryland’s Move Over law expands to now include transportation, service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks, with yellow or amber flashing lights or signal devices. These vehicles join the list of protected vehicles under the State’s current Move Over law, which include emergency response and law enforcement vehicles, as well as tow trucks.
The law requires drivers approaching (from the rear) one of these vehicles with red, yellow or amber flashing lights that is stopped, standing or parked along the highway to, when possible, move over a lane. This movement should only be done if another lane in the same direction is available and the move can be made safely and without impeding other traffic.
If the driver is unable to make a lane change, the law requires drivers to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing conditions while passing the emergency or service vehicles.
“MDOT SHA is pleased that the Move Over Law now protects MDOT service vehicles and other service and utility vehicles with amber lights,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Gregory Slater. “Safety is our number one priority. Our employees work alongside active roadways, daily and with every glance away from the road, each time a driver reads a text message, answers a phone call, or fails to move over their safety is jeopardized. Please move over to help ensure a safer work environment for our employees.”
Maryland State Highway Administration has lost members of their work family to drivers who have erroneously steered into work areas including: Eddie Gilyard, who was killed in November 2013 while working on the shoulder of I-695 near Belair Road in Baltimore County, and Rick Moser, who was struck and killed along a I-270 ramp in 2007. In Howard County, contractor Erick Meekins was killed in June 2013 while setting up cones on Route 216 near Route 29 in Howard County.
This spring and summer there were severe crashes and close calls including RJO Landscaping employees who narrowly escaped injury when their landscaping crew was struck on I-83.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, with nearly one million members in Maryland, had been a vocal advocate in Annapolis for the original passage of move over legislation and for the subsequent inclusion of tow trucks and most recently service vehicles. The new law means AAA battery truck drivers will also be afforded protections, as they assist disabled motorists.
“AAA Mid-Atlantic was a proud advocate of this law, as we recognize the importance of having service truck drivers included in move over laws, since they face the same dangers as first responders and tow truck operators when conducting business on the side of our roadways,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We are grateful to the bill sponsors of this legislation, Delegate Anne Healey and the late Senator Wayne Norman for their commitment to traffic safety and keeping workers safe on Maryland roads.”
Despite having the laws, unfortunately, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and others continue to be killed as they conduct business on the roadways. Motor vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation-related incidents remained the most common fatal occupational event in 2016, accounting for 40 percent (2,083).
“The slow down and move over movement is personal to the people of Laurel. In January of 2017, we lost a member of our Department of Public Works family, Marcus Colbert who was struck by a motorist who hit a parked car and then swerved into him behind the trash truck he was working on,” said Laurel Mayor Craig A. Moe. “This legislation raises public awareness and provides a consistent message to motorists to pay attention to their surroundings to MOVE OVER and SLOW DOWN to allow workers on our roadways to successfully complete their assignments and to return to their families at the end of the work day.”
According to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission, 71 percent of Americans have not heard of move over laws. As of September 10, 2018, the total number of citations issued to violators of the move over law since its inception on October 1, 2010 were 19,620 (warnings issued 64,345). This year alone 1,269 citations have been written and 5,273 warnings issued.
“The intent of the move over law is to provide an extra barrier of safety for police officers, fire fighters, emergency rescue personnel, tow service operators and all of our public safety personnel working along Maryland roads,” said Captain Dan Pickett, Commander of the Washington Metro Troop for the Maryland State Police. “It is imperative that drivers stay alert for these types of situations and move over, if possible, or slow down as they pass by the traffic stop or incident scene.”
A violation of the Move Over law is a misdemeanor.
- The fine is $110 and the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) must assess one point against the driver’s license.
- If the violation contributes to a crash, the fine is $150 and three points against the driver’s license.
- If the violation results in death or serious bodily injury, the fine is $750.