Maryland State Police are continuing efforts to educate motorists and enforce the state’s ‘move over’ law, with a focused initiative that resulted in thousands of traffic stops in June. It’s ahead of a change in the law that will add tow service operators to the list of scene responders that police want drivers to be on the look out for.
During the month of June, troopers statewide issued 1,165 citations and 2,594 warnings for violations of Maryland’s move over law. Troopers used each traffic stop as an opportunity to clearly inform drivers of the move over law requirements. Some drivers continue to say they are unaware of the law, which took effect in Maryland on October 1, 2010.
The move over law requires drivers approaching from the rear an emergency vehicle using visual signals while stopped on a highway to, if possible, ‘make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.’ This movement should only be done if another lane in the same direction is available and the move can be made safely and without impeding other traffic. If moving to another lane away from the stopped emergency vehicle is not possible, the law requires drivers to ‘slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.’
The intent of the ‘move over’ law is to provide an extra barrier of safety for police officers, fire fighters, and emergency rescue personnel working along Maryland roads. It is hoped drivers will become more aware of police and emergency workers stopped along the road and move away from them or slow down as they pass by the traffic stop or incident scene.
Under Maryland Vehicle Law, emergency vehicles are defined as:
-Vehicles of federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies;
-Vehicles of volunteer fire companies, rescue squads, fire departments, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, and the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute;
-State vehicles used in response to oil or hazardous materials spills;
-State vehicles designated for emergency use by the Commissioner of Correction;
-Special vehicles funded or provided by federal, state, or local government and used for emergency or rescue purposes in Maryland.
Violation of the ‘move over’ law is a primary offense with a fine of $110 and one point. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash resulting in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points.
Effective October 1, 2014, the move over law will expand to include tow service operators. When a tow truck is on the side of the road the same rules of changing lanes if possible, or slowing down, will apply.State troopers are encouraging motorists to begin now to include tow service operators and not wait for October 1st.