HARTFORD, CT (August 2, 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, nationwide, there have been at least four deaths – 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 Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “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.
Connecticut’s "Move Over" law is one of the strongest in the country, in that it requires motorist to slow down and move over for ANY vehicle along the side of the road, not just emergency vehicles.
“As Connecticut State Troopers we are sworn to protect members of our community and remain committed in that effort; however, this is more than just the responsibility of law enforcement officers. This is a task that requires a pledge from all Connecticut motorist,” says Sgt. Josue Dorelus. “The Move Over law is designed not only to protect all first responders, DOT workers and wrecker operators, it is also to protect members of our public who may be in distress on the side of the road. Ignoring the law puts each and every one of us at risk of not returning home to our families. Help us, help those in need and Slow Down and Move Over for all emergency vehicles.”
“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 at high rates of speed,” Parmenter 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.”
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.
Connecticut’s "Move Over" Law
Connecticut's Move Over law (Sec. 14-283b) requires all drivers on a highway of two lanes or more in one direction to slow down and, if safe to do so, move over one lane not only for emergency responders and tow drivers, but for any vehicle along the side of the road. If a driver is unable to move over a lane, the driver is required to slow down and proceed with caution.
In Connecticut, the original law took effect in 2009 to reduce risk to law enforcement officers, emergency responders and tow operators. It was expanded in 2017 to apply to every stationary vehicle along the roadside.
A violation of Connecticut's "Move Over" law is an infraction subject to a $181 fine unless it causes death or injury to the emergency vehicle driver. If the driver is injured, the violator faces a maximum $2,500 fine. If the driver is killed, the violator faces a maximum $10,000 fine.