Every day, law enforcement officers and other first responders take to the streets to keep people safe. And every day, they put their lives at risk to do so. One of the most dangerous parts of a first responder’s job is stepping out on the side of the road, whether it is for a traffic stop, to assist a motorist, or to investigate a crash.

Because of these dangers, May 6-8, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Wants to Keep First Responders Safe —Move Over. It’s the Law.

Law enforcement nationwide is coming together with the NHTSA Region 7 states, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, to inform the driving public about important lifesaving “Move Over” laws in effect in every State in America.

The law, requiring motorists to slow down and, if safe to do so, move over when passing emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated, hasn’t reached all drivers yet.

Since 2017, there have been 149 law enforcement officers alone killed in traffic-related incidents. Our goal is simple: We want all drivers to know that when they see flashing lights on the side of the road, they are required to Move Over. It’s the Law.

Officials state, “We implore everyone to do their part to keep our officers and other first responders safe as they work to help motorists on our roadways. Move over if you see a stopped emergency vehicle, and if you can’t move over, slow down as you pass them.”

Enacted in 2002, the “Move Over” law is one of the most important yet lesser known laws for U.S. roadways.  The law requires all drivers to move over or slow down when approaching any emergency vehicle using a visual signal and that is stopped, parked or next to a roadway.  If you are driving near an emergency vehicle, the law requires you to change lanes to move away from the emergency vehicle or, if unable to make a lane change, slow down considerably to a reasonable speed considering factors such as weather and road conditions.

Multi-Lane Roadway:

  • “Drivers must vacate the lane closest to the stationary emergency vehicle, tow truck, sanitation, or utility vehicle. (Always signal your intention to change lanes.)
  • Drivers must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit if they cannot move over safely.
  • Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stationary vehicle should be prepared to allow those who are to move over into their lane.”

Two-Lane Roadway:

  • “Drivers must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, drivers must travel at 5 mph.”

 

The first “Move Over” law was enacted in South Carolina after a paramedic was hit by a vehicle while providing care to someone who was in a crash.   Sadly, each year other paramedics and law enforcement officers are killed while they are responding to traffic-related incidents. Unfortunately, misinformed drivers think “moving over” is an optional courtesy.

It’s not.  It’s the law.

All 50 States have "Move Over" laws to protect law enforcement officers and other first responders stopped on our Nation's roads. Yet one-third of the public is not aware of these laws, and traffic-related incidents continue to be the number one cause of death among on-duty law enforcement officers.

Together with our law enforcement partners and State highway safety offices, NHTSA is working to increase awareness of these life-saving "Move Over" laws and highlight the need to protect public safety professionals who place themselves at risk to protect motorists.

By working with local organizations and raising public awareness of "Move Over" laws through earned and social media, you can make a difference and save lives.