Little-Known Traffic Laws Protect Car Accident Responders

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Tow truck worker on roadDid you know that most states have traffic laws requiring drivers move over a lane to avoid accidentally striking law enforcement officers and emergency personnel at the scene of an accident or car breakdown? Arizona recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of its own move over law and the safety hazard posed by police officers, tow truck operators and other emergency workers, who often respond to accidents and work pulled over to the side shoulder of the highway, leaving them vulnerable to oncoming traffic. In recognition of the over 150 officers who have lost their lives as the result of being struck on the highway and to protect others from the same threat, most states have passed similar laws. Failure to slow down and move over may subject the driver to a ticket and a fine.

You can find out what the law is in your state below, but you don’t need a law to keep yourself and others safe on the road. If you see one or more cars pulled off to the side of the road, or one or more persons standing or walking on the shoulder, slow down and move to the next lane over to give all vehicles and people enough clearance.

Move Over Laws by State*

States requiring drivers slow down and vacate lane nearest stationary emergency vehicles (including police cars, EMS vehicles, fire trucks and tow trucks): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

States requiring drivers slow down and vacate lane nearest stationary emergency vehicles (including police cars, EMS vehicles and fire trucks, but not tow trucks): Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming.

As of 2010, the state of Hawaii did not have a move over law.

* Courtesy of

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