What Is the Move Over Law?

Protect the people who protect you.

A Service Technican's Point of View

Imagine yourself standing on a busy highway. Cars and big trucks zoom past, drifting in their lanes while the wind gusts they create push on you.

Mike Malinowski knows this unnerving feeling well. He’s been a service technician with AAA Roadside Assistance for about 13 years, currently in Florida.

“You never realize how fast vehicles are moving until you’re not moving and everyone is doing 70 or 80 mph around you,” Malinowski says. “I’ve had to dip underneath the truck or behind it to get out of the roadway because I felt like a driver might have been too close to me. You have to move quickly.”

A passing car even struck Malinowski once—breaking its side mirror off. While it didn’t cause serious injury, it shows the importance of staying alert and following the law when you pass vehicles parked on the side of the road.

All 50 States

Move Over laws exist in all 50 states. They differ slightly, but in general you should move over one lane or slow down (or both) when approaching a vehicle—including tow trucks—with its flashing emergency lights on. Move Over laws date back to 1996. Still, many drivers routinely fail to move over, creating potentially deadly situations.

“It’s not just a law—it’s something that you should be doing because it’s the right thing to do,” Malinowski says.

What you can do to help

Infograph of how to move over when a service vehicle is on the side of the road.

These tips help protect roadside workers and improve highway safety whenever you’re behind the wheel:

Always remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on driving.

Scan the road ahead. Watch for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks or utility service vehicles are stopped on the side of the road. This gives you time to change lanes and adjust speed accordingly.

Don’t tailgate. Do not follow tractor-trailers or other large trucks too closely. If a truck moves into a left lane, don’t speed around the right side. The truck is changing lanes for a reason; be prepared to change lanes yourself.

Recognize and respond. When approaching an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights on the side of a two-lane roadway, slow down to a safe speed (in some states that means 20 mph less than the posted speed limit) and proceed with caution unless directed otherwise by an emergency worker on the scene. If it’s a multilane road, move into an adjacent lane that’s not immediately next to the emergency vehicle, if possible.

Be courteous of other motorists. Allow other vehicles to merge into your lane when necessary.

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