August 3, 2021 – As we head into August and what may be the busiest month in years on our nation’s roadways, AAA, first responders and traffic safety advocates are working together to raise awareness around a little known law intended to protect those responding to emergencies along the roadside. In the past month, there have been at least four deaths nationwide – two tow drivers, including one who worked for AAA, a firefighter and a disabled motorist changing a flat - all working along the roadside when they were struck and killed by motorists.
“Even though there is a ‘Move Over’ law in all 50 states, very few people are aware of it, understand it or abide by it and the consequences have been tragic,” says Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson. “This is not just about avoiding a costly ticket. It’s about saving lives by changing behavior so drivers simply move over when anyone is either working or disabled on the side of the road.”
For this reason, AAA and its traffic safety partners will be aggressively increasing public education efforts through a variety of communication channels in the coming weeks and months.
Start with an Explanation:
"Move Over" laws exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although they differ slightly, generally speaking, most state laws require drivers on any roadway of two lanes or more in one direction to slow down and move over a lane if possible whenever there is an emergency vehicle with flashing lights such as a police, fire, construction or tow vehicle, working along the roadside. It is intended to ensure that all motorists give emergency responders, tow drivers and those working along the roadside adequate room to safely do their jobs with decreased risk of injury or death.
“We can’t stress enough how important it is that drivers move over, slow down and change lanes when they see any first responders, including AAA, working in and around traffic,” Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Geoffrey Freeman said. “By doing so you are also potentially saving someone’s life.”
AAA and other traffic safety advocates have been instrumental in the passage of laws to better protect tow truck drivers, other first responders and everyone on our roadways. Sadly, many drivers still routinely ignore or don’t know about "Move Over" laws, failing to protect roadside workers by creating potentially deadly situations.
“It is not unusual for there to be just a few feet - or less - between our tow drivers assisting a member on the roadside and vehicles flying by high rates of speed,” Hitchens adds. “There is no reason they should have to risk their own lives to help others. Slowing down and moving over is not just the law. It’s the right thing to do.”
Ohio’s "Move Over" Law
Ohio's Move Over law (Section 4511.213) states: If the driver of the motor vehicle is traveling on a highway that consists of at least two lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver's motor vehicle, the driver shall proceed with due caution and, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, shall change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to that of the stationary public safety vehicle, emergency vehicle, road service vehicle, waste collection vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle.
Ohio’s original law took effect in 1999 to reduce risk to law-enforcement officers, emergency responders and tow operators. It was expanded in December 2013 to apply to every stationary vehicle with flashing lights, including road construction, maintenance and utility crews.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol recently joined forces with members of the Six-State Trooper Project enforcing and raising awareness about the Move Over law from July 18 through July 24. The high-visibility campaign included the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, West Virginia State Police, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
During the initiative, Ohio troopers issued 546 Move Over citations and educated motorists about the state’s Move Over law. The entire initiative issued over 1,000 Move Over citations across the six partnering states.
In Ohio violators can face fines up to $300 for a first offense.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and nearly two and a half million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.