In March of 2009, Massachusetts enacted a “Move Over Law” requiring motorists that are approaching an emergency vehicle or service vehicle stopped on the side of the road to move over into the adjacent lane or slow down. In the wake of a recent fatal accident in which a tow truck driver was struck and killed by a passing truck, authorities are once again reminding motorists of the “Move Over” law.
What Does the Move Over Law Require?
The Move Over Law was designed to protect first responders, emergency personnel, and others who are stopped along the side of a roadway or highway. When a driver is approaching a stationary emergency vehicle (such as a patrol car or ambulance) or maintenance vehicle whose lights are flashing, the motorist is required to move his or her car into the next lane furthest from the stopped vehicle, if it is safe to do so. So for instance, if a patrol car was stopped in the right hand shoulder of the highway and a car was traveling in the far right lane, as the car approached the patrol car it should be moved to the next lane to the left.
If it is not safe for the car to move to the adjacent lane, then the law requires that the motorist reduce his or her speed. The law does not dictate how much the motorist must decrease his or her speed, but the intent of the law is clearly to protect individuals along the side of the highway. Therefore, the speed should be reduced to allow the motorist to make maneuvers and avoid colliding with individuals or their stopped vehicles.
What Happens if I Do Not Move Over or Slow Down?
Motorists who violate the Move Over Law can face a fine of $100. But more significantly, if that motorist is involved in a fatal or injury accident, evidence that the motorist did not move over or slow down as required can be considered evidence of negligent conduct. This can increase the likelihood that the motorist can be held responsible for damages caused to the other person.
Why a person does not move over or slow down can be important as well. Failing to move over or slow down for any of the reasons set out below can be further evidence of negligence:
- Driving while distracted by a text message or telephone conversation;
- Not paying sufficient attention to one’s surroundings; or
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Contact Us for Help after a Car or Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or truck accident, having the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can dramatically increase your chances of recovering compensation. Car and truck accidents are rarely simple matters, and a thorough investigation is necessary in order to uncover all the contributing causes. Contact Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law at (508) 755-7535 for help following an accident.