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LAUREL, MD (October 14, 2021) – Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) agencies including the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTAP) joined AAA Mid-Atlantic today in Laurel to share a critical reminder for drivers: Move Over or Slow Down for those working to protect and maintain Maryland’s roads. The statewide effort comes ahead of National Move Over Day on October 16 to raise awareness of the Move Over law and help eliminate preventable roadside injuries and fatalities.
MDOT Secretary Greg Slater, MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith, MDTA Chief of Police Col. Kevin M. Anderson and Ragina Cooper Ali of AAA Mid-Atlantic gathered at an Interstate-95 rest stop and noted that October marks the third anniversary of the expansion of Maryland’s Move Over law, which requires drivers to move over whenever possible to give emergency vehicles, first responders and road crews space, and to slow down if it’s not possible to safely move over.
The Maryland law, first enacted in 2010, provided protection for emergency responders, law enforcement personnel and MDOT SHA Coordinated Highway Action Response Team (CHART) vehicle operators providing roadside assistance. In 2014, the law was extended to include tow trucks, and in 2018 it was expanded again to include transportation, service and utility vehicles, and waste and recycling trucks.
“The men and women who work every day along our roadways – law enforcement officers, emergency responders and highway crews – are there to serve the public and are often performing their duties within inches of fast-moving traffic,” Secretary Slater said. “As we work together to eliminate excessive speed and distracted, impaired and aggressive driving, we must also remember our responsibility as motorists to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles and work crews. Please help ensure a safe work environment so these responders can do their jobs and make it home safely.”
From 2014 to 2019, more than 4,000 people were injured, and 53 people were killed in work zone crashes in Maryland. Since 2016, there have been 68 crashes where CHART vehicles responding to incidents have been struck by other motorists, including five so far in 2021. AAA tow operators respond to more than 30 million calls for help each year. As of this August, 14 tow providers nationwide have lost their lives while helping others at the roadside. On July 4, a AAA Tow Driver in Ohio was killed while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed. Three weeks later, a AAA driver in Colorado was also struck and killed.
“Emergency roadside assistance is at the core of AAA’s traffic safety mission. Given these startling statistics, the tragic loss of two AAA tow truck providers this summer and the continued incidents that are killing and injuring tow truck operators, police and others who conduct their business on the side of the roads rendering aid and working to keep our roads safe, we at AAA are recommitting our efforts to increase awareness of and support for Slow Down Move Over laws,” said Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Public and Government Affairs Manager and a former Baltimore police officer.
“We must all obey the law and give roadside workers, who are our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, spouses and friends, the room they need to do their jobs safely,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Smith.
Maryland’s Move Over law requires drivers approaching from the rear of an authorized vehicle stopped on a highway with light flashing to, if possible, make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the vehicle. This should only be done if another lane in the same direction is available and the move can be made safely and without impeding other traffic. If safely moving to another lane is not possible, the law requires drivers to slow to a reasonable speed safe for existing weather, road and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.
Violating the law is a misdemeanor carrying a $110 fine and one point on the violator's driving license. If the violation causes a crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If there is a death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points. Since 2015, law enforcement in Maryland have written more than 25,000 citations under the law.
“All of us have an obligation to limit distractions while driving and be prepared to slow down and move over when we see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights stopped on a highway,” MDTAP Chief Col. Anderson said. “As simple as that sounds, many drivers are choosing to ignore these two important actions that could prevent a crash and save a life.”
MDOT MVA also unveiled the latest element of its Be the Driver campaign aimed at helping drivers make the right decisions behind the wheel. Over the next six weeks, the messages will be promoted on billboards along major roadways across the state and social media. The campaign launched in 2020 with key reminders such as Be the SOBER driver, Be the BUCKLED-UP driver, and now Marylanders are encouraged to Be the MOVE OVER driver as well.
“With all of our Be the Driver messaging, the goal is to change behaviors and ultimately reach zero deaths on our roadways,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Unfortunately, according to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, at least 23% of Americans are unaware of Move Over laws, which have been adopted in all states. We want to change that here in Maryland to make sure everyone providing critical services on our roads makes it home at night.”
Maryland is dedicated to saving lives and preventing injuries by reducing motor vehicle crashes. Learn more about the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.