Road Safety – Florida’s Move-Over Law

When traveling to or living in Florida, it’s imperative that you understand the “move-over” law, both for your safety and for the safety of those around you.

The move-over law is simple: When you see stopped tow trucks, utility service vehicles, emergency vehicles, sanitation vehicles, or law enforcement, you’re required to move over one lane as long as you have the ability to safely do so. This gives the stopped vehicles space and lowers the chances of a collision.

If you cannot move over due to traffic conditions, you must slow your vehicle to a speed that’s 20 mph lower than the currently posted speed limit. This rule also applies if you are driving on a road with only a single lane. Should the speed limit be 20 mph or under, you should slow your speed to 5 mph.

That’s the basic gist of the law, though more details are as follows:

  • When an emergency services vehicle approaches with lights or siren on, all motorists must immediately yield the right-of-way. You should move your vehicle either over the curb or as close to the curb as you safely can, yield parallel to the white line, and allow the vehicle to pass. Emergency services vehicles with lights and sirens activated are en route to or coming from an emergency, and their work is time sensitive. Yielding the right-of-way saves lives.
  • Emergency vehicleAs mentioned, drivers must move from the closest lane to a parked utility or emergency vehicle when it is safe to do so. The only exception is when a law enforcement official directs traffic otherwise.
  • Cars should never cross the yellow line to vacate the lane. On one lane roads, vehicles should instead slow down as previously indicated.
  • The DHSMV is required to create an awareness campaign to inform drivers about the law. All driving education materials printed and published after the law went into effect have information about the law.
  • Pedestrians usually have the right-of-way by default. However, when an emergency vehicle passes with lights or sirens activated, the pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle. The only exception is if a law enforcement official directs otherwise.
  • Emergency vehicles are legally required to use their sirens or lights to inform motorists when they are en route to an emergency. Emergency vehicles must also comply with vehicular traffic laws while traveling to emergencies.
  • Emergency vehicle drivers are responsible for conducting their vehicle in a safe manner.
  • All laws and regulations regarding driver responsibility, both for normal vehicles and emergency vehicles, remain unchanged.

The penalty for noncompliance with the move-over law is a noncriminal infraction. You will be given a fine, additional fees, and have three points added to your driving record.

It’s important to be familiar with this law. Move-over laws have been passed forty-three of fifty states; it’s not just a courtesy, it’s the law. When you fail to move over or slow down, you put the lives of emergency and utility workers at risk.

In Florida in 2017, there were 212 crashes caused by vehicles failing to move over. In addition, more than 17,000 citations were issued to motorists who refused to move over. The DHSMV does its best to educate drivers about the law, but many people continue to ignore it.

The Move-Over Law went into effect in 2002. Many older motorists received their licenses prior to the law’s passing and genuinely do not know of its existence. Current DHSMV handbooks have educational information about the Move-Over Law, but drivers prior to 2002 didn’t have these educational materials while learning to drive.

The leading cause of law enforcement officer deaths in Florida in 2017 was traffic-related fatalities, many of which occurred because drivers didn’t comply with the move-over law. It cannot be emphasized enough as to how important is it to keep roadside workers safe.

Oftentimes law enforcement and public service workers cannot be easily seen from the road, especially in poor weather conditions or during the night. Working on the side of busy roads is a huge safety hazard, one that’s easily mitigated when drivers slow down. Move over and watch carefully.

The Florida DHSMV is partnering with AAA, the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association to increase awareness of the move-over law and help keep roadside workers safer in 2018. The Move Over, Florida! campaign aims to increase awareness and compliance with the law.

The campaign is sorely needed and has been embraced by emergency and public service workers. Seventy-one percent of Americans have never even heard of “Move Over” laws. Even so, eighty-six percent of Americans support nationwide “Move Over” laws (currently these laws exist in only forty-three out of fifty states). Ninety percent of Americans concur that roadside emergencies and traffic stops are dangerous for first responders and for law enforcement.

If you’re traveling to Florida from out-of-state, the move-over law is one of the first you should familiarize yourself with. Individual states have slightly different laws and penalties for violating those laws. Whenever you travel or vacation to a new state, you should look up the traffic laws which differ from those in your own state.

For example, some state laws lack language specifically requiring a vehicle to move into another lane. In certain states, vehicles are only required to give emergency and utility vehicles a “wide berth,” which doesn’t necessarily include a lane change. Certain other states and territories lack laws about slowing down when passing vehicles parked on the shoulder, regardless of whether or not they’ve implemented a move-over law.

Move Over, America! is a group which advocates for the implementation of move-over laws across the entire nation. The partnership was founded in 2007 and has the backing of the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Safety Commission, and other road safety coalitions. Move Over, America! documents news regarding move-over laws and new legislation. The group also creates awareness campaigns with the goal of protecting safety officers nationwide.

The next time you’re driving in Florida, remember to do the right thing when you see a stopped emergency vehicle and move over.

This is a public service post for all road users in Florida. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of the fault or negligence of another, contact our injury law team at 800-753-5203 for a free case evaluation.

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Recommended Resources:

https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/move-over/
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.126.html
https://www.flhsmv.gov/2018/01/02/move-florida-law/