State Move Over Legislation
At least 12 states have introduced move over related legislation in recent years. Recent state move over actions have primarily focused on adjusting penalties for violating the statute, adding vehicles that motorists must move over for, public awareness efforts and other miscellaneous provisions.
Three states—Delaware, Kansas and New York—recently introduced bills adjusting the penalties for violating move over statutes. Delaware enacted a bill in 2021 (SB 126) which prescribed a fine of $150 for a first offense and a $300 fine for a subsequent offense for violating the state’s move over statute. Previously, the offense was subject to a general penalty provision of no less than $25 and not more than $75 for a first offense and no less than $57.50 and not more than $95 for subsequent offenses.
Kansas introduced a bill (HB 2164-failed) in 2021 that would have established a fine of $45 for unlawfully passing a stationary vehicle, defined as when a driver fails to move over on a two lane highway or fails to slow down and proceed with caution when moving over is not possible. New York introduced a bill in 2021 (AB 1417-pending) which would require a driver approaching stationary emergency vehicles, tow or recovery trucks and highway maintenance vehicles to switch lanes or reduce their speed. The bill would also set the penalty at $100 for a first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.
Vehicle Classification and Technical Changes
At least seven states—Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Virginia—introduced bills related to vehicle classification or other technical changes to their move over statutes in recent years.
Mostly notably, Maryland enacted a bill (SB 147) in 2022 which included any disabled vehicle displaying warning lights in the state’s move over statute. Massachusetts introduced a bill (SB 2296-failed) in 2021 which would have included utility vehicles in the state’s move over statute.
Vermont (SB 339) amended its law in 2020 by stating that drivers approaching emergency, towing or repair vehicles on multi-lane highways must change lanes or slow down to a safe speed. Additionally, the state’s move over provisions were extended to include work zones.
Two other states introduced bills which would have adjusted or set the speed at which vehicles must travel when passing vehicles included in move over statutes. Connecticut introduced legislation in 2021 (HB 5258- failed) that would have required vehicles to travel 20 mph when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle. Virginia also introduced a bill in 2021 (HB 637- failed) which would have required a driver that cannot change lanes to slow down to 10 mph.
New York introduced legislation (AB 44-pending) in 2021 which would authorize the superintendent of the state police and counties, cities, towns and villages to establish demonstration programs imposing monetary liability on owners of motor vehicles for failure to slow down and move over when approaching parked, stopped or standing authorized police, fire or emergency vehicles. The bill would also authorize the installation and operation of a move over monitoring system on any state police vehicle.
Public Awareness & Miscellaneous
One challenge states face related to move over laws is lack of public awareness. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 23% of drivers surveyed were unaware of move over laws in their state, and of those who were aware, 15% report not understanding the consequences for violating them.
Four states have recently introduced notable public awareness-related bills. Oklahoma enacted the Operation Work Zone Awareness Act (HB 4100) in 2021, which establishes a website dedicated to public awareness on the dangers of committing moving violations while in work zones. The bill also allows motorists who are cited for work zone violations to participate in an Operation Work Zone Awareness program to get their fine dismissed. The program may include information on facts and figures representing the dangers of motorists committing work zone moving violations, testimonials from highway construction workers and their families, information on the importance of awareness and slowing down in work zones and a question-and-answer section to ensure participants understand and retain the information presented. The fee for participation in the program is $75, of which $35 is allocated to the Department of Public Safety Revolving Fund, $15 to the Department of Public Safety Patrol Vehicle Revolving Fund and $25 to the Oklahoma Court Information System Revolving Fund. Oklahoma also enacted a bill (HB 1584) in 2021 naming the state’s move over law “Bernardo’s Law” in honor of Bernardo Martinez, a tow truck driver killed while working roadside.
Also in 2021, South Carolina enacted legislation (HB 4974) designating Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, as slow down, move over day in the state. Colorado enacted a similar bill in 2020 (HB 1145) which required the State Patrol and state DOT to create a public awareness campaign regarding the requirement to slow down or move over when approaching stationary emergency vehicles.
Illinois enacted two move over related bills in 2019. One bill (SB 1862) renamed the move over law to “Scott’s Law” in honor of Lt. Scott Gillen, who died in the line of duty. The bill also created the Scott’s Law Fund, which uses revenue from move over violations to fund the production of materials to educate drivers on approaching stationary authorized emergency vehicles, hire off-duty Department of State Police officers to enforce the move over law and aid other efforts law enforcement deems necessary to combat move over violations. The bill also established that any move over violation which results in the death of a person is a Class 4 felony, and any violation that results in damage to a vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor.
The second bill Illinois enacted (SB 2038) established a move over task force to study the causes of violations and ways to protect emergency responders and law enforcement officers. The task force published their final report in December 2020, which included recommendations regarding legislative, procurement, data collection and public awareness. The task force recommended the move over law be changed to “move over and slow down,” rather than “move over or slow down.” The report also suggested making the procurement process easier for law enforcement to obtain new technology and public safety equipment. To address the unavailability of statewide data for move over citations, crashes and data, the task force recommended an amendment to the traffic crash report form to better capture move over violations. Finally, the task force encouraged the state Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway Authority to increase signage along highways to educate the public about move over laws.
In response to the recommendations from the task force, the Illinois Legislature enacted two more move over related bills in 2021. One bill (HB 3656) adjusted the move over requirement so that all vehicles, regardless of lane of travel, must slow down and maintain a safe speed for road conditions when passing stationary emergency vehicles. The bill also established a new Move Over Early Warning task force to study new technologies and early warning systems in vehicles and cellular phones that alert drivers to the presence of first responders and road safety hazards. The task force must submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2023. Additionally, the Legislature enacted a bill (SB 1913) adding a community service requirement, as determined by the court, as a penalty for violating the move over statute.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021, established a new program within the National Safety Priority Programs aimed at preventing roadside deaths. This new program will be allocated 1% of the funds under the National Safety Priority Programs section, which is expected to be about $4 million to $5 million annually. States will be eligible for these funds if they submit a plan to the secretary of transportation describing how they plan to use such funds to carry out eligible activities.
Eligible activities include the purchase and deployment of digital alert technology; public education regarding the safety of vehicles and individuals stopped at the roadside; enforcement of state laws dedicated to protecting people working roadside; and for programs to identify, collect and report data related to crashes involving vehicles stopped roadside. The funds may also be used to pilot and incentivize measures, including optical visibility measures, to increase the visibility of stopped and disabled vehicles.