Knowing and following move over laws keeps workers and fellow motorists safe on the road. These laws, found in all 50 states, lay out what you need to do when you come across certain vehicles, like emergency or maintenance vehicles, on the side of the road. Whether it’s changing lanes or slowing down significantly, these laws give workers the space they need to do their jobs safely. If you are ever hit by a car while you’re stopped on the shoulder of the road, it is important to understand your right to compensation.
What is the Move Over law in Texas?
The Texas State Move Over Law (or Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.157) applies to specific vehicles, including stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks with authorized equipment, and Texas Department of Transportation vehicles displaying proper signals. When approaching one of these vehicles on a highway with two or more lanes, drivers must either change lanes to the farthest lane from the stationary vehicle or, if changing lanes is not possible, slow down to a speed below the posted limit. The speed reduction should be 20 mph less for speed limits of 25 mph or more, and 5 mph less for speed limits below 25 mph. Violating this law can result in penalties ranging from a misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor, “including fines of up to $1,250 for a first offense. Stricter penalties for drivers who cause serious injuries by failing to follow these rules now include possible jail time and a fine of up to $4,000,” as per the Texas Department of Transportation. The law aims to enhance the safety of emergency personnel and workers on the roadside.
While Move Over laws are present in all 50 states, AAA notes that awareness and adherence among motorists vary. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71% of Americans are unaware of their state’s specific laws regarding moving over for emergency vehicles. This inconsistency in awareness highlights the need for increased education and communication regarding these important traffic safety regulations.
Who’s at risk on the shoulder of the road?
On average, two emergency responders, including tow workers, are struck and killed every month by a driver who fails to obey the law by moving over to an adjacent lane and allowing the roadside rescuers the space to operate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roadside crashes are notably deadly for tow workers. Government data shows that tow operators are killed at a rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other industries.
Being a tow-truck driver is a deadly profession, and other emergency responders don’t have it easy out there either, but you don’t have to be a road worker or tow driver to be in danger on the side of the road. AAA reports that “since 2015, over 1,600 people have been struck and killed while outside of a disabled vehicle.” Distracted driving seems to be a large contributor to these types of accidents, with distracted drivers being four times more likely to end up causing an accident if they’re talking on the phone, and eight times more likely if they’re texting.
So whether you’ve blown a tire, stopped to check your directions, or you’re pulled over for some other reason, you are in danger when you’re stopped on the side of a busy road. It is important to be cautious when in this situation.
What can I do if I need to pull onto the shoulder?
For whatever reason, you find yourself needing to pull over onto the side of the road or highway.
Mach 1 Roadside Assistance gives a good list of what to do if you find yourself in this situation:
- Do not panic. Stay calm and focused to avoid making rash decisions that could endanger yourself and others.
- Think about the problem. Recognize and acknowledge the issue with your vehicle before pulling over. This awareness is crucial for maintaining composure.
- Do not rush yourself. Avoid making sudden and dangerous movements by maintaining a steady and controlled approach to pulling over.
- Make sure your hazards are on. Alert other drivers by activating hazard lights, indicating a problem with your vehicle. Keep hazards on, especially at night or if you can’t pull far from the highway.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Consider weather and road conditions, as well as the available space on the side of the highway, to ensure a safe pull-over.
- Pull off of the road safely. Brake slowly and carefully steer towards the shoulder. Gradually come to a complete stop, keeping hands steady on the wheel.
- Get as far away from the highway as possible. If conditions permit, choose an area with ample room to ensure a safe distance from ongoing traffic.
- Stay in your car if you can. Unless you can fix the problem from the driver’s seat, remain inside the vehicle for maximum protection.
- Keep emergency devices in your car. Use flags, cones, or other bright objects to enhance visibility. Consider a roadside safety kit and call for professional help if needed.
- Call for help. If you’re unsure about the issue or unable to fix it, don’t hesitate to call for professional assistance.
- Keep in mind that you are still near a highway. Be cautious of potential traffic-related issues even after pulling over. Debris from accidents can pose a risk.
- Keep others in your vehicle safe. Prioritize the safety of passengers by ensuring they stay inside the vehicle, especially in adverse weather conditions. If necessary, find a safe area within walking distance away from the highway.
With these tips in mind, hopefully should you find yourself in this position, you will emerge on the other end of it unharmed.
When you are driving, no matter what road or highway, it is important to be attentive and aware of your surroundings. Don’t let yourself be distracted by a text or call. While roadworkers may often put out signs of upcoming roadwork, a driver with a busted wheel may not have any type of flags, cones, or signs to warn you of their presence.
If you were on the shoulder of the road and were struck by a car, your injuries were likely catastrophic, and you do not deserve to pay thousands in hospital bills due to someone’s negligence. At the Law Offices of Pat Maloney, our skilled legal team can help you to focus on healing, while we take care of the complex legal process. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Antonio personal injury attorney, call us or use our contact form.
Pat Maloney, Jr. is a skilled San Antonio personal injury lawyer who has acted as lead counsel and co-counsel in many multi-million dollar verdicts throughout Texas. Pat Maloney represents people injured in car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and more. He is well known for his expertise in representing victims of serious personal injuries and has participated as a lecturer in the field of personal injury litigation. He has been named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” Reference Book every year for the last five years.