Law enforcement and emergency personnel performing traffic stops or responding to auto accidents are at risk of being struck by passing motorists. Most states have move over laws to prevent these types of accidents. In 2003, former Governor Rick Perry signed the Move Over Act into law. The law’s language is simple to understand and it is not difficult to follow.
How Does the Texas Move Over Law Work?
Transportation Code 545.157 requires drivers to perform certain actions near emergency vehicles that have come to a stop and have their lights activated. There are two options. Drivers can vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle (if the road has multiple lanes in the same direction), or they can slow down to 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more. For example, if the speed limit is 45 miles per hour, this means the driver must slow down to 25 miles per hour.
This statute applies to vehicles such as police officers, emergency medical services, fire trucks, tow trucks and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) vehicles. The statute added tow trucks in 2011, and TxDOT workers in 2013.
Drivers who fail to abide by this law can face fines of up to $2,000 depending on the circumstances. If a driver causes injuries because they failed to follow the move over law, they can face a Class B misdemeanor.
What Happens When Drivers Ignore Move Over Laws?
Despite the existence of Texas’ move over law, roadside accidents continue to happen. Statistics collected by the Texas Department of Public Safety show that in 2015, 11 state troopers were hit by drivers who did not follow Texas’ move over law. TxDOT also claims 13 of its workers have died performing roadside work within the last decade.
An accident in Huntsville can also show us how frequently drivers ignore this law. A Texas state trooper suffered injuries while responding to the scene of an accident. A passing driver lost control and slammed into his patrol car. According to the trooper, who has since recovered from his injuries, this is not the first time it has happened.
This law enforcement officer also told the local press in Huntsville that he lost a fellow trooper to one of these collisions. A drunk driver slammed into the trooper at 80 miles per hour while he was working on the side of the road.
The consequences of ignoring Texas’ move over laws can extend beyond fines or criminal penalties. Drivers may also be held accountable for causing deaths or catastrophic injuries. Victims of drivers ignoring this law may decide to sue for damages.
The Texas car accident lawyers at Mike Love & Associates, LLC can hold negligent drivers accountable when they injure or kill other people.