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State's ‘Move Over’ Law Now Applies to All Vehicles in Maryland

Red emergency stop sign and broken silver SUV car on the road

First responders put their lives on the line daily for those in need of help. But unfortunately, far too many first responders lose their lives or sustain severe injuries helping others on the roadside or doing their duty (i.e., the police officer conducting a traffic stop). While many states have a "Move Over" law to protect emergency responders and prevent roadside car accidents, some states are trying to do more to prevent serious roadside collisions involving all vehicles.

For example, in Maryland, the state has decided to expand the "Move Over" law to protect every type of vehicle stopped on the side of the road and not just emergency response vehicles. This law will go into effect in October 2022. This is a step in the right direction. However, it's important to remember that your safety rests just as much in your hands as that of in the hands of other drivers when your vehicle is disabled or on the side of the road. Indeed, it only takes one moment of recklessness or negligence by a driver (e.g., speeding, texting, driving under the influence, rubbernecking) to cause a roadside crash that results in severe injury or death.

This is why you need to do several things if you are disabled or stopped on the road or shoulder:

  • Pull as far over on the shoulder as possible;
  • If it is daytime, raise your hood; drivers generally cannot see flashers in the daytime;
  • If you have a cone or a safety device, place it several yards behind your vehicle;
  • Pay attention to what is going on around you. If you are calling the police or AAA, stay in the car. There is no sense in risking life and limb while you are on the phone and your attention is focused elsewhere
  • At night, always have flashers or additional lights on. If you have a light or reflective clothing or item with you, put it somewhere where it is to be visible; and, do not try to cross multiple lanes of traffic (highway) to get to the other side unless you have a clear safe path.
  • Try to have a “safety” kit in the car; and,
  • Generally, don’t attempt to change a tire yourself on the side of the car that is closest to the roadway.

Crash victims have the right to seek compensation for their damages, but what might appear as a straightforward claim can quickly become a complicated legal case. As a result, you could lose out on the compensation you're entitled to if you don't clearly understand your legal rights and options. That's why if you are injured or a loved one died in a roadside crash under move-over circumstances, it's in your interest to seek legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney.

What is the 'Move Over' law?

In Maryland and other states, it is the law to change lanes or slow down while passing an emergency vehicle stopped on the roadside. The 'Move Over' law protects emergency vehicles like law enforcement, tow trucks, utility vehicles, and transportation vehicles. The law was passed in 2010 and extended to include tow trucks in 2014, according to Violators of the law can face up to $500 in fines.

Maryland expands its 'Move Over' law to include all vehicles.

Starting in October, Maryland will extend the 'Move Over' law to include all motorized vehicles. The new law states that all drivers must move over or slow down if approaching a disabled vehicle with warning signs such as hazard lights or caution signals. However, there will be instances where the cars closest to you may not be able to move over, so you must protect yourself. Do not assume that other drivers will move automatically.

Support for the new bill was unanimous, and the AAA Mid-Atlantic fully backed the expansion. Maryland State Senator Jeff Waldstreicher says it is important for the legislature to take action to make roadways safer. For example, in 2021, there were 1,847 citations issued for move-over violations in Maryland. Moreover, Maryland is now the eighth state to expand the law to all disabled vehicles. The other seven states include Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Drivers have a duty to watch for other vehicles and road hazards.

Every driver is responsible for obeying the 'Move Over' law. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration lists driver responsibilities when approaching roadside incidents or disabled vehicles as:

  • Every driver must maintain a reasonable speed when approaching a roadside incident and consider other potential hazards, such as the weather.
  • When approaching the area of the incident, every driver must reduce speed and vacate any lane that is blocked.
  • Every driver must obey any official directing traffic when approaching a roadside incident.
  • At the same time, if you are driving and see an emergency or other vehicle on the side of the road or in a lane ahead, DO NOT just automatically move over until you know it is safe and there are no cars coming in the next lane.

Of course, not every driver takes these responsibilities seriously. Unfortunately, the result is often a serious roadside collision that leads to severe injury or death. Crash victims have recourse through the civil justice system, but negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong, and in many instances, will claim that you or your car were not visible, particularly at night, if you don’t take proper precautions. In addition, insurance companies are known for purposefully delaying and disputing claims to keep settlement offers low or flat-out denying claims altogether. That's when experienced legal representation can make a significant difference in the result of your case.

Contact an experienced car accident attorney today.

Reckless drivers must be held accountable for the pain and damage they cause. That's why you should talk to an experienced car accident lawyer from our law firm if you or a loved one suffered injuries because a negligent driver hit you. You may be entitled to compensation, and we can fight for every dollar you deserve.

To find out how we can help you with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney from our law office in Rockville, Maryland. We proudly serve clients in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

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