This month marks the one-year anniversary of Maryland’s “Move Over” law being expanded to include all service vehicles on state roads.
The Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration are using this milestone as a reminder on just how important it is for motorists to adhere to these vital motor vehicle safety laws. The outreach to the public for this law will include news releases, social media, public service announcements and media interviews.
All 50 States have enacted “Move Over” laws, but very few Americans know they exist. 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. So far in 2019, 29 law enforcement officers have been killed nationally in traffic-related crashes.
Maryland’s “Move Over” laws require drivers approaching from the rear of an emergency vehicle using visual signals while stopped on a highway to, if possible, make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.
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 moving to another lane away from the stopped emergency vehicle is not possible, the law requires drivers to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.
The intent of the law is to provide an extra barrier of safety for police officers, fire fighters, emergency rescue personnel and service and utility workers working along Maryland roads. It is hoped that drivers will become more aware of police and emergency workers stopped along the road and move away from them or slow down as they pass by the traffic stop or incident scene.
The original law went into effect in 2010. In 2014, the law was expanded to not only include police cars but also, tow trucks, fire trucks and medical and rescue trucks as well. On Oct. 1, 2018, the law expanded again to transportation, service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks, with yellow or amber flashing lights or signal devices.
Motorists appear to have received the message as since the law expanded in 2014, troopers went from issuing 5,408 citations and 12,179 warnings to 1,349 citations and 5,677 warnings in 2018 for move over violations. Through Sept. 26, 2019, troopers have issued 1,347 citations and 4,979 warnings for similar violations.
Statewide, more than 17,000 motorists have received citations or warnings from all police for violating the “Move Over” law in Maryland since the law expanded last year. From 2014 to 2018, more than 3,400 people were injured, and 46 people were killed in work zone crashes in Maryland.
“Since the law went into effect last October, more than 17,000 motorists have received citations or warnings for violating the law on Maryland roads,” said Lt. Col. Frank Lioi, Maryland State Police Field Operations Bureau Chief. “We will continue to protect those that work on and alongside our roads and enforce this life-saving law.”
For more information on the “Move Over” law, visit www.roads.maryland.gov.