Did you know traffic related incidents are a leading cause of death or serious injury for law enforcement officers? Police going unseen on the shoulder of the highway by motorists can often lead to an all-too-common tragedy. But state governments have taken steps taken to mitigate this. In 2010 Maryland passed its original “Move Over” law in an effort to mitigate police deaths due to traffic collisions. The law saw its first expansion in 2014 to protect fire trucks, ambulances, and tow trucks in addition to police. In 2018 Maryland added waste and recycling trucks in addition to service and utility vehicles to the law. Now the “Move Over” law has received its largest and most consequential expansion to date. Read on for the full story and check back on our blog for more recent legal developments in your area.
For the uninitiated: Maryland’s “Move Over” law stipulates that passing drivers must slow down or change lanes to give space to protected categories of vehicles (and by proxy, their drivers and crews) that have stopped on the side of the road. This is especially meant to protect drivers stopped on the shoulder of the highway. The high speeds of cars traveling on the highway and low visibility on long stretches of these routes can lead to catastrophe if vehicles on the shoulder are not highly visible and given space.
The newest expansion to Maryland’s Move Over law went into effect on October 1st, 2022. The law now requires motorists to decelerate or change lanes when approaching any stopped vehicle displaying hazard lights or road flares. This extra safety precaution can be applied to all motorists, whether they’re state or municipal employees or just private citizens. Maryland is just the 8th state in the US to implement such a wide-reaching Move Over law. Failure to abide by this new law can result in a misdemeanor charge, points on the offending driver’s license, and a fine. The fine has the potential to escalate dramatically if the offending driver’s failure to make space or slow down leads to a crash, serious injury, or death. It can balloon from $110 all the way to $750!
So drivers should take care to abide by this new law to protect their property, health, and financial wellbeing along with that of their fellow motorists. But what if you are the stopped driver? For your own sake and for the sake of those around you it is of the utmost importance that you find a place to stop in the event of suspected mechanical trouble, a health crisis, or mental exhaustion or impairment that limits your ability to safely operate your vehicle.
Once stopped in a safe place, you should put on your hazard lights, engage your parking brake, and turn your wheels away from traffic. If you have reflective signs or road flares, be sure to deploy them for increased visibility. If you have a flat tire, do not attempt to change it unless you can be certain it is safe to do so. In the event of you have a more severe mechanical issue, contact roadside assistance and find a safe place to wait for their arrival. Do not attempt to flag down passing motorists, and only walk in search of assistance if absolutely necessary.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident while stopped on the side of the road, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed by the circumstances. You may be dealing with extensive car repairs or even buying a replacement vehicle, You may be paying medical bills, or missing work and losing wages. You don’t need to face it all alone. The attorneys at Malloy Law Offices specialize in auto accidents and can seek compensation on your behalf, leaving you free to focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Our experienced and diverse team will consult with you free of charge and evaluate your case. Don’t wait. Contact Malloy Law today.