It’s a common site on Maryland’s busy roadways: A police officer approaches a vehicle he or she has pulled over in the highway breakdown lane. Or a tow truck driver assists a motorist broken down on the side of the road. Or an ambulance responds to the scene of a traffic accident. These hard-working first responders take their lives in their hands every day while doing their jobs to assist the public and keep our Maryland roadways safe.
This is why Maryland passed a “Move Over Law” requiring motorists travelling in the same direction to change lanes to avoid emergency vehicles and personnel in the roadway. If changing lanes is not safe or possible, then motorists are required to slow down to a speed that is safe for weather, road, and traffic conditions — to make sure they can safely pass the first responders and avoid causing a tragic motor vehicle accident.
Now, Maryland has expanded its Move Over law to include other types of motor vehicles.
On October 1, 2018, Maryland House Bill 531 went into law, providing added protection for sanitation vehicles and utility workers. The law requires that Maryland motorists must switch lanes or slow down when approaching from the rear any utility vehicle with flashing yellow or amber lights. This includes garbage and recycling trucks as well as service and utility vehicles. Prior to the passage of the new law, motorists were only required to make room for emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and first responders.
The newly expanded law is designed to protect workers in our roadways and prevent traffic accident injuries and fatalities. It comes in the wake of the 2017 death of a 30-year-old sanitation worker in Laurel, Maryland, who was killed when an SUV crashed into his garbage truck.
A violation of the Maryland Move Over law is a misdemeanor, carries a $110 fine and one point against the driver’s license, assessed by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. A violation that contributes to a crash carries a $150 fine and three points against the driver’s license, while a violation resulting in death or serious bodily injury carries a $750 fine.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that while all 50 states have enacted some type of Move Over law, most drivers don’t know what they are or mean. The Pew Trusts reported that according to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, on average 6 to 8 fire rescue and EMS workers are killed working in or near moving traffic each year, as are 10 to 12 police officers and 50 tow operators. However, there are no comprehensive statistics on deaths caused by motorists’ failure to abide by their states’ Move Over laws.
Maryland General Assembly – House Bill 531 (PDF)
Motor Vehicles – Operation When Approaching Vehicle With Visual Signals
Maryland Expands ‘Move Over’ Laws Oct. 1 to Protect Sanitation, Utility Workers
NBC4 Washington Sept. 1, 2018
Drivers beware: Maryland’s ‘Move Over’ law expands next week
The Baltimore Sun Sept. 26, 2018
‘Move Over’ Laws Aim to Save Lives on the Highways
The Pew Trusts June 3, 2015