To move over to another lane when there is a disabled vehicle on the side of the road – is it just being courteous or is it required? It’s the law, and failing to do so could result in a fine and points against your license.
January is “Move Over” month in Florida. Law enforcement hopes that the heightened focus will prevent avoidable car accident involving police, paramedics and tow truck drivers. Drivers who violate this law cause more than 100 car accidents each year in Florida. According to WFLA.com, in 2014, there were 161 crashes with 120 injuries. Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chelsea Richard was investigating a crash when a truck driver did not move over and ended up killing the trooper and two other people. In Sarasota last month, Timothy Canary, who drives a tow truck, was moving a vehicle that had broken down on I-75 just north of University Parkway when a passing truck didn’t move over, and ended up hitting him and taking off.
Although some laws are unclear, this one is not. Florida Statute 316.126 states as follows:
316.126 Operation of vehicles and actions of pedestrians on approach of an authorized emergency, sanitation, or utility service vehicle.—
(1)(b) If an authorized emergency vehicle displaying any visual signals is parked on the roadside, a sanitation vehicle is performing a task related to the provision of sanitation services on the roadside, a utility service vehicle is performing a task related to the provision of utility services on the roadside, or a wrecker displaying amber rotating or flashing lights is performing a recovery or loading on the roadside, the driver of every other vehicle, as soon as it is safe:
1. Shall vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, sanitation vehicle, utility service vehicle, or wrecker when driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle, sanitation vehicle, utility service vehicle, or wrecker, except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer. If such movement cannot be safely accomplished, the driver shall reduce speed as provided in subparagraph 2.
2. Shall slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater; or travel at 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, when driving on a two-lane road, except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.
It is that simple — all drivers who see a police car, an ambulance, a tow truck or any other emergency vehicle on the side of the road must “move over” into the next lane. If there is not enough room or time to switch lanes, drivers should reduce their speed to 20 miles an hour below the posted speed limit.
However, this simplicity can save lives.
With family and friends in law enforcement, this law is important to me and it should be important to all drivers. This month and always, move over!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.