Rules of the Road: Move Over, It's the Law

Ambulance with Metzger Wickersham Logo

By Zachary D. Campbell, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

Every driver has likely encountered this scenario – a casual drive down the road and suddenly, EMERGENCY LIGHTS! SIRENS! Thoughts that may cross your mind include – is there a crash ahead? Is the road blocked? Can I squeeze by? Should I move over? The answer to the last question is easy. YES, MOVE OVER!

According to AAA Reading-Berks, as of November 2, 2020, 43 emergency responders have been struck and killed in the U.S. (16 law enforcement officers, 20 tow truck operators, 1 mobile mechanic, 3 Fire/EMS personnel and 3 safety-service patrol operators). This includes two Pennsylvania emergency responders, paramedic Matt Smelser and tow operator/FF Tyler Laudenslager.

A new Pennsylvania law requires that you move over and slow down when approaching an emergency response area. If you don’t, you could face stiff penalties and even a loss of your driver’s license.

The new law was passed in October 2020 (Act 105 of 2020) and takes effect on April 27, 2021. Legislation amended Title 75 to modify the Commonwealth’s “Steer Clear Law” and renamed the law as the “Move Over Law.” The renaming helps to clarify what is expected of motorists when they drive near an emergency situation, they should move over into an adjacent lane to pass.

If a person cannot pass an emergency response area or a disabled vehicle in a nonadjacent lane because it is impossible, illegal or unsafe, the person would need to pass those areas at a speed no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. An emergency response area is where an emergency vehicle has lights flashing or where road crews or emergency responders have lit flares, posted signs or are actively trying to warn travelers.

Even disabled vehicles are covered by the new law as long as they display two of the following markings: Vehicular hazard signal lamps and caution signs or other traffic control devices.

The Move Over Law creates a new point system that penalizes drivers, two points for failing to move into the lane not next to the emergency response area. Violators will receive a fine of

  • $500 for the first offense,
  • $1,000 for a second offense,
  • and $2,000 for any further offenses.

After a third or more offense, the violator will receive a 90-day license suspension. This suspension also applies if the violator is involved in an incident that seriously injures or kills another person. The suspension increases to six months if the person injured or killed is an emergency service responder. A fine up to $10,000 could apply in this situation as well.

So remember, the next time you come across an emergency response area, don’t panic. Simply follow the rules of the road, MOVE OVER AND SLOW DOWN!

If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, we can help. Contact Metzger Wickersham today to request a free and confidential consultation.