LAUREL — The State Highway Administration and AAA Mid-Atlantic have announced that Maryland’s expanded Move Over law has taken effect.
According to a news release, as of Oct. 1, Maryland’s Move Over law was expanded to include transportation, service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks, with yellow or amber flashing lights or signal devices. These vehicles join the list of protected vehicles under the state’s current Move Over law, which include emergency response and law enforcement vehicles, as well as tow trucks.
The law requires drivers approaching from the rear any of these vehicles stopped along the highway with red, yellow or amber flashing lights to move over a lane when possible. 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, the release states..
If the driver is unable to make a lane change, the law requires drivers to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing conditions while passing the emergency or service vehicles.
“Safety is our number one priority. Our employees work alongside active roadways, daily and with every glance away from the road, each time a driver reads a text message, answers a phone call, or fails to move over their safety is jeopardized. Please move over to help ensure a safer work environment for our employees,” said Gregory Slater, administrator of the State Highway Administration, in a statement.
The SHA has lost members of its work family to drivers who have erroneously steered into work areas including: Eddie Gilyard, who was killed in November 2013 while working on the shoulder of I-695 near Belair Road in Baltimore County, and Rick Moser, who was struck and killed along a I-270 ramp in 2007. In Howard County, contractor Erick Meekins was killed in June 2013 while setting up cones on state Route 216 near U.S. Route 29 in Howard County.
This spring and summer there were severe crashes and close calls including RJO Landscaping employees who narrowly escaped injury when their landscaping crew was struck on I-83.
AAA Mid-Atlantic was a vocal advocate in Annapolis for the original passage of move over legislation and for the subsequent inclusion of tow trucks and most recently service vehicles. The new law means AAA battery truck drivers will also be afforded protections, as they assist disabled motorists.
Ragina Cooper Averella, manager of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, offered the organization’s thanks to Del. Anne Healey, D-22-Prince George’s, and the late state Sen. Wayne Norman, R-35-Harford, for sponsoring the legislation.
“AAA Mid-Atlantic was a proud advocate of this law, as we recognize the importance of having service truck drivers included in move over laws, since they face the same dangers as first responders and tow truck operators when conducting business on the side of our roadways,” Averella said.
Despite having the laws, unfortunately, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and others continue to be killed as they conduct business on the roadways, the release states. Motor vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States.
According to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling and Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission, 71 percent of Americans have not heard of move over laws, the release states. As of Sept. 10, the total number of citations issued to violators of the move over law since its inception Oct. 1, 2010, were 19,620, with 64,345 warnings issued. This year alone 1,269 citations have been written and 5,273 warnings issued.
A violation of the Move Over law is a misdemeanor. The fine is $110 and the Motor Vehicle Administration will assess one point against the driver’s license. If the violation contributes to a crash, the fine is $150 and three points against the driver’s license. If the violation results in death or serious bodily injury, the fine is $750.