HAMILTON, NJ – 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 Tracy Noble spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “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.
“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.
“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,” Noble 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.”
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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.
New Jersey’s Slow Down, Move Over Law
New Jersey’s Move Over Law requires all drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, service trucks and other highway safety vehicles displaying red, blue and/or amber flashing lights must move over one lane or, if not safe to move over, then slow down below the posted speed limit. In New Jersey, the original law took effect in 2009 but was strengthened in 2019, to stiffen penalties and assess two motor vehicle points for repeat offenders convicted of a violation three or more times in 12 months. Since its inception over 28,000 citations have been issued for violations of New Jersey’s Move Over Law.