Pursuits in multiple statehouses call for expanding move-over rules to apply to all highway users.
There are nine states that include all road users in their move-over law, AAA reports. Maryland adopted the rule one year ago, joining Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
Bills in North Dakota and Virginia would do the same.
North Dakota law requires drivers to move over to an adjacent lane or slow down to a “safe” speed before passing emergency vehicles. Exceptions are made for situations when safety, road, weather and/or traffic conditions do not allow.
The House Transportation Committee held a hearing this week on a bill to help protect the lives of all drivers on the state’s fastest roadways.
Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, told the committee many drivers in the state are unclear which types of vehicles are included in the protection.
“What it clearly doesn’t cover is a school bus, a motor coach, a tractor-trailer … or anyone else,” Schauer said.
He added that most drivers do slow down or move over for any vehicle sitting on the side of the highway with hazard lights flashing, but some do not.
His bill, HB1141, would require drivers approaching a vehicle displaying flashing hazard warning lights to move over a lane or slow down while maintaining a “safe speed for the road conditions.”
Expanded move-over rule championed
AAA welcomes pursuit for inclusion of all vehicles in move-over rules.
Gene LaDoucer of AAA told the committee each year about 350 people nationwide are struck and killed while outside a disabled vehicle.
“The underlining purpose of HB1141 is to put the unwritten rule into writing,” he said. “Doing so makes the law clearer; education efforts become much easier; enforcement is straight forward; and the safety of all road users is improved.”
Marty Ellis, driver of the OOIDA tour truck, says most truck drivers believe in move-over rules. He points out that if a trucker is unable to change lanes, state laws across the country are vague when it comes to how much drivers are expected to slow down.
“It needs to be uniform so everybody knows and understands it,” Ellis said.
He adds that roadway users make worse the safety concern when they stop along roadsides to swap drivers, let dogs out or to take a break.
“Anyone that has ever been broken down on the shoulder sees all the vehicles that don’t get over and how dangerous it can be.”
Virginia law mandates that travelers on roadways with at least two lanes in one direction proceed with caution and, if reasonable, yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle. If a lane change is unreasonable or unsafe, drivers must “proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.”
The Senate Transportation Committee voted 12-2 on Jan. 12, to advance a bill to expand the protection to include any highway user along the roadside displaying hazard lights, caution signs, or road flares.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Marsden said the goal of his bill is safety for all highway users.
“If a driver pulls over to rest or for whatever reason that is going to improve their ability to operate an automobile, I think we ought to give them the courtesy of keeping them safe by having people slow down and move over,” Marsden testified.
The bill, SB982, next heads to the Senate floor. LL
More Land Line coverage of news from North Dakota and Virginia is available.