The Texas State legislature passed the original Move Over law in 2003. It was designed to protect all law enforcement officers, emergency vehicles, and first responders from being struck by a driver when working on the side of a road or highway. The law requires any driver approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with lights activated to slow down or move over one lane.
The Texas legislature amended the move over law in 2011 to include stationary tow trucks to the list of protected emergency vehicles. This year, the law was further amended to include all TxDOT vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road with activated lights.
There are two parts to the Texas move over law; moving over one lane and slowing down. All drivers must move over one lane if traveling on a multi-lane roadway when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with activated lights on the same side of the road as the driver. This places an empty lane between the driver and the police officer, fireman, paramedic, tow truck operator, and TxDot personnel.
If the driver is unable to move over, then the driver is to slow down to a speed equal to 20 miles per hour lower than the posted speed, provided the speed limit is greater than 25 miles per hour. If the posted speed is 25 miles per hour or less, the driver is to slow down to a speed 5 miles per hour until they pass the stopped emergency vehicle.
Failure to do move over or slow down will result in a fine or citation of up to $2,000. Hitting an emergency work will lead to jail time. Over 100 Texas Transportation Department employees have died after being struck by a vehicle since 1938 making Texas roadways and construction zones one of the deadliest places to work.
The amendment, which was sponsored by State Senator Robert Nichols of Jacksonville, Texas, went into effect on September 1. The Texas Department of Public Safety stepped up its enforcement of the bill in 2012 and 2013 after the tow truck provision went into effect. More than 17,000 warnings and citations were written in 2012 and about $6,000 were issued so far this year. I believe we’ll see another stepped up enforcement effort in and around Texas road construction zones to help people learn about the new law.
I’m pleased to see this legislature pass. It’s a common sense piece of legislation that will save lives. This law was passed by Hawaii last year, all 50 States now have move over laws in effect. Whether you’re driving on a Texas road or highway, or traveling to another State, remember to slow down and move over!
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