The Importance of Move Over Laws

 It’s a familiar scene that we’ve all encountered, driving along the road and seeing an accident scene ahead. Even with the police and emergency responders on the scene, accident recovery can be a complicated and sometimes confusing process. That’s why it’s so important for everyone on the road to do their part and put safety first by observing the Move Over Law.

           If you follow Tow Jam on social media, you’ve probably heard us mention the phrase “Slow Down and Move Over” in the past. However, if you’re new to our team and our business, you might feel a bit confused by the term. Slow Down and Move Over refers to the Move Over Laws that require motorists to switch lanes and give a safety clearance of at least one road lane for emergency responders. While the specifics of the law vary from state to state, this typically includes law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, utility workers, tow operators, and in some cases disabled motorists. Here in Texas, our Move Over Law requires drivers to reduce their speed to 20 mph (in areas where the speed limit is over 25 mph, less in areas where the posted limit is under 25 mph) and can result in a fine and a Class B misdemeanor charge if violation results in bodily harm. 

           The purpose of this law is to protect emergency workers from harm while on duty, but when did the Move Over Law as we know it first start? On January 28, 1994, a South Carolina paramedic by the name of James D. Garcia was struck and injured while working on an accident scene. Despite being the injured party, Garcia was declared to be the one at fault. This led to him starting the work to create a law to protect emergency responders. South Carolina’s version of the law was passed in 1996, and after a series of similar incidents occurred across the US in 2000, the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration began to address the issue on a national level. Today, all 50 states have some official version of the Move Over Law in place. 

Now that you have a better understanding about the Move Over Law and how it began, we hope you keep it and us in mind the next time you see a stopped emergency vehicle. Remember, when you slow down and move over to a buffer lane, you’re potentially saving a life.

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