A Move Over Law is a traffic rule that requires drivers to move over or slow down to accommodate stopped authorized emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and police cars. It serves to improve the safety of emergency roadside workers, as well as utility workers and motorists. Georgia passed a Move Over Law in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to collisions between motorists and workers parked alongside the road. Following this law is imperative for legal and safety reasons.
What Does the Law State You Should Do?
Georgia’s Move Over Law (Georgia Code 40-6-16) states that any driver approaching a stopped authorized emergency vehicle displaying its lights shall do so with due caution. The driver must either switch lanes into one not directly adjacent to the stopped vehicle or, if a lane change is not possible, slow down to a reasonable and appropriate speed for road and traffic conditions. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop if they cannot switch lanes safely to accommodate a stopped roadside emergency vehicle.
If you see a stationary authorized emergency vehicle on the side of the road flashing blue, red, white, amber or yellow lights, the Move Over Law in Georgia will come into effect. If it is safe for you to do so, move into a lane that is not adjacent to the stopped vehicle. Do so slowly and carefully, signaling your intent to switch lanes and checking to make sure the lane is clear before moving. If it is impossible, unsafe or prohibited by law to move into the next lane, reduce your speed to what is reasonable based on the circumstances (below the posted speed limit). Pay attention to the road and prepare to stop, if necessary.
Fines for Breaking the Law
If you break Georgia’s Move Over Law and fail to either switch lanes or reduce your vehicle to a reasonable speed when passing a stopped authorized emergency vehicle, you could face a hefty fine. The fine for breaking this law in Georgia is $500 maximum for a first offense. The fine could increase for a second or subsequent offense. If you cause an accident while breaking the state’s Move Over Law, you could face criminal charges as well as civil liability for a victim’s injuries or death. Speak with an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help if you are involved in a car accident with an emergency vehicle.
Georgia is a fault car accident state, meaning if you are at fault for causing a collision, your insurance company will have to pay for a victim’s damages. This could lead to your premium increasing and/or your insurer dropping you as a client. The victim may also have grounds to bring a personal injury civil claim against you for negligently or recklessly causing the accident. Proof that you breached Georgia’s Move Over Law leading up to the accident could be enough to lead to a verdict against you.
What Is the Move Over Law’s Goal?
Georgia’s Move Over Law has an important purpose: to protect the state’s emergency first responders and other roadside workers. Every year, thousands of emergency personnel and utility workers suffer serious injuries and die around the U.S. in preventable motor vehicle collisions. More police officers die in traffic accidents than any other incident in the line of duty. If everyone obeyed the Move Over Law in their states, most of these accidents would not occur. Obeying the law could save hundreds of lives – both workers and motorists – annually.
Preventing roadside vehicle collisions can also serve to prevent related accidents. Many accidents happen as a result of other crashes. Creating a buffer lane between oncoming traffic and a stopped worker could prevent these accidents and others. Moving over to the required lane can give authorized personnel greater clearance and larger margins of safety. It can serve the interests of motorists, police officers, firefighters, first responders, paramedics, tow truck drivers, sanitation workers, utility service workers and others. Obey Georgia’s Move Over Law for your safety and that of those around you.