Having a law on the books that requires drivers to move over for stopped emergency vehicles to some people may seem a bit unnecessary. But it is on the books for good reason, as a recent accident on I-64 proved.
Earlier this month, a Virginia (VA) State Police officer and a driver that he had just pulled over were hit by a car from behind. The officer and the driver were sitting in the patrol car when the driver of a Ford Mustang lost control of his car and hit both the guard rail and the patrol car. Both the officer and the other individual in the patrol car were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Mustang was charged with reckless driving.
This is the kind of accident that Virginia’s (VA) “Move Over Law” aims to prevent. Emergency workers who are stopped on the side of the road—ambulances, police vehicles, fire trucks, EMT workers—need to be assured of their safety while they are carrying out their public safety and other duties. The Move Over Law helps do so by requiring other drivers on the road to give some space to these stopped emergency vehicles. Specifically, the law states that for stationary vehicles displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, red or amber lights, drivers must move over one lane of traffic, when there are at least two lanes of traffic traveling in their direction. If a land change would be unreasonable or unsafe, the driver must proceed with caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.
Penalties for failing to respect this law are generally punishable as a traffic infraction, although repeat offenses carry more serious penalties. In the event that failure to comply with the law results in harm to property or injury to an individual the driver may have their license suspended.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.