What is the Move Over/Slow Down Law?
Written by Greg on November 8, 2019
Everyone has seen cars disabled on the side of the road, or have been pulled over by the police. Every year, dozens of police officers or first responders across the country are hurt or killed by another driver when they are on the side of the road. Whether they are assisting another motorist, giving a ticket, or handling fire or other situation, emergency workers are vulnerable to injuries.
A law is in place in Texas to try to keep responders safe during traffic stops or when providing motorist assistance. The Move Over/Slow Down law requires drivers to move to another lane and slow down whenever they see emergency lights in use. Following the law not only will help protect others and avoid hefty fines but will also prevent a car wreck.
Move Over and Slow Down
The Move Over/Slow Down law was initially enacted to protect fire, ambulance, and police workers and keep them safe as they provide services to motorists or others on the roads. The law was updated in 2013 to include the protection of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) workers. The law requires drivers to move into a different lane to allow more room for emergency vehicles and personnel. At the same time, drivers must slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit while passing.
As of September 1, 2019, the law was updated to include service utility vehicles. Service utility vehicles are TxDOT vehicles, tow vehicles, power utility trucks, and garbage and recycling vehicles. These trucks sometimes need to perform work on the side of the road, such as was necessary after Hurricane Harvey or other roadwork. If you are on a multi-lane road, you must merge way from the vehicle on the side of the road. This action provides a buffer area to protect personnel from accidentally getting hit. Keeping your eyes on the road and moving over early after you see a police car on the side of the road helps prevent the risks of needing to merge suddenly.
Penalties for Violation of the Move Over Law
The Move Over/Slow Down law is enforceable by police. The penalties for failure to move over or slow down include fines of up to $200. If the situation results in property damage, the fine increases to $500. If the driver caused bodily injuries, it is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted of a crime, the driver could face jail time and up to $2,000 in fines.
Over the last year, police have ramped up their efforts to enforce the law. Police regularly give out warnings and tickets for drivers who violate the law. A statewide campaign continues to educate the public about the law. The overhead signs on highways, for instance, are sometimes utilized to remind drivers to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles. The goal is to prevent accidents and injuries caused by drivers who do not pay attention to emergency services. There are also radio announcements, posters, and press materials that will bring attention to the public. Car accidents can happen at any time. If you get stranded on the side of the road, remain in your vehicle if you are safely off the road and call for assistance.
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