Every state in the United States has some form of the Move Over Law. Although the stipulations of the law may vary by state, the main goal remains the same: to safeguard emergency personnel and others from collision when responding to jobs on the side of the road. Understanding and obeying the Move Over Law in Texas are requirements if you wish to avoid fines and penalties. Keep yourself and others safe while driving in Texas with this information.
Every year, workers in the U.S. die from vehicles striking them while they are working roadside. From 2003 to 2015, 1,570 workers died at roadway construction sites. Texas ranked highest in the number of these deaths, with 171 fatalities. This number only represents construction workers killed; it doesn’t refer to first responders. Each year, an estimated 12 police officers, five firefighters, and 60 state Department of Transportation (DOT) workers die in the line of duty. Many of these deaths occur while responding to roadway incidents.
Roadside worker safety is paramount in Texas and throughout the country. Improving the safety of first responders and emergency personnel starts with spreading awareness of the issue. Enforcing new laws is one of the most effective ways to get drivers to change their behaviors. In 2003, Texas passed its original Move Over/Slow Down law. The law’s language protected employees by requiring drivers to yield to certain vehicles. Yielding means to either move over to the next available lane away from the stopped vehicle or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.
The original law applied to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and tow trucks on the side of the road with emergency lights flashing. In 2013, Texas legislators expanded the Move Over Law to also include Texas DOT vehicles. Drivers must now move over for all TxDOT vehicles stopped roadside with overhead blue or amber flashing lights as well. the announcement of the expanded law pointed out that more than 100 TxDOT employees working in construction zones had died after being struck vehicles since 1938.
On January 31, 2018, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced new enforcement efforts focusing specifically on the Move Over Law. The DPS planned periodic enforcement efforts at different locations in Texas throughout the year, starting in February. Data from 2017 showed more than 10,650 citations relating to the Move Over Law in Texas alone. By ramping up enforcement efforts in 2018, the DPS hopes to catch even more rule violators and enhance the safety of roadside service providers.
As a Texas driver, it’s your duty to obey the Move Over Law. This means you must slow down and/or switch lanes to give certain vehicles plenty of room when on official duty. If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, it’s wise to move over a lane or slow down to enhance the safety of any employees present. Moving over can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to roadside workers, who could otherwise lose their lives if drivers aren’t paying enough attention and driving too close to parked vehicles.
Violating Texas’s Move Over Law could result in fines of up to $2,000. It is a misdemeanor to break this law and a more serious Class B misdemeanor if you break the law and cause bodily injury. You may face criminal and civil penalties if you break the Move Over Law and cause a collision that injures or kills on-duty Texas workers. Stay on the right side of the law and protect others by obeying the Move Over statute and always paying attention to the road.