Study shows some drivers oblivious to Move Over law
Startling new data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds some drivers may not fully grasp the danger they pose to roadside workers when they don't comply with Move Over laws at all times.
On average, a first responder is killed every other week in the United States while working at the roadside, according to the report.
Tracy Noble, manager of public and government affairs with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the data collected finds that among drivers who do not comply with Move Over laws at all times, 42% thought this behavior was not dangerous at all to roadside workers and 23% were unaware of the Move Over law in the state where they live.
These laws exist in all 50 states, said Noble. People are required to slow down or move over a lane of travel, if possible, while there is an emergency worker on the side of the roadway.
A new AAA poll of New Jersey drivers indicates a similar lack of understanding or awareness around the state's Move Over law.
Noble said even though 98% of New Jersey drivers indicate it's very dangerous for roadside workers if motorists do not comply with the law, 42% were either unsure or thought there was no Move Over law in the state.
Noble said there clearly needs to be more education around this matter.
New Jersey law specifically requires drivers to slow down or move over if there is a stationary vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights. That includes police officers, fire departments, tow trucks, highway workers, EMS, anybody who is assisting a motorist or working on the side of the road. If a motorist is unable to move over, the law requires them to slow down below the posted speed limit.
Noble said if anyone has ever been disabled on the side of the road, then they know that cars vibrate tremendously as traffic whizzes by.
"Now imagine standing out there trying to perform a task, such as hooking up to a tow truck or repairing a flat tire. These folks are actually putting their lives on the line and it's unfortunate that we've had had some tragedies," she said.
Noble warned it is important for motorists to eliminate distractions while behind the wheel. They should know what's in front of them and what's ahead of them at all times. Be able to scan the road continuously to look for emergency workers.
"These people are typically trying to help motorists. They're out there doing their jobs and they did not sign up to go die in the roadway," Noble said.
In New Jersey, the original Move Over law took effect in 2009, but was strengthened in 2019 to stiffen penalties and assess two motor vehicle points for repeat offenders convicted of a violation three or more times in 12 months.
Since its inception, over 28,000 citations have been issued for violations of New Jersey's Move Over law.
Noble said motorists need to practice common courtesy and be safety-minded on the roads.