The Importance of Arizona’s “Move Over” Law
All roads have fast moving traffic, and this can lead to accidents, when vehicles do not function as they should, or drivers are careless. While most roads have berms, and often places where you can park, it is not always that a breakdown will happen at a convenient spot, or accidents will choose them for happening. This means that vehicles are required to park on sides of roads and put on flashers till they are towed away or repaired. The importance of Arizona’s “move over” law can’t be denied.
Here is ADOT’s video on the subject
Careful motorists will slow down and move further to a side when they see such vehicles, but all motorists are not and often speed by. This has often caused injuries and deaths of the stranded persons, emergency responders, and even tow truck operators. This has led to many states, including Arizona, to pass Move Over laws so that lives could be saved, and motorists drive more carefully.
As per this law, motorists are are required to move over to another lane when they are required to drive past any vehicle that has flashing lights, and has pulled over to the side of the highway. If there is no lane available, they are required to slow down till they have passed the stranded vehicle. This applies to all vehicles that have flashing lights, and this can mean ambulances, police, or emergency vehicles.
Emergency vehicles are often parked on a highway to attend to those who are in distress. They will always have their emergency lights flashing to indicate to passing motorists that there is emergency being attended to. In spite of that there are motorists who crash into them and cause a second accident. The Move Over law now in force in Arizona is expected to provide a buffer for all vehicles parked with emergency lights flashing. This is expected to improve the margin of safety for stranded drivers, emergency personnel and tow truck operators. It also makes it safer for motorists themselves and their passengers.
What is the purpose of the “move over law”?
The first Move Over Law was passed in South Carolina in 1996. By the year 2012, 50 states had passed similar laws. Arizona’s Move Over Law first went into effect in late 2005. It was initially meant to protect police officers and emergency personnel. It clearly lays down the action to be taken by a motorist when he is approaching any stationary vehicle that has lights that are alternately flashing or any warning lights are displayed. If the motorist is driving on a four lane highway, two lanes in the same direction that he or she is travelling, the motorist must move into the lane that is not adjacent to the vehicle with the flashing or warning lights. At times it may not be possible to change lanes, or they may not be available. In such a case, the motorist must immediately reduce speed , and go past the light flashing vehicle at this reduced speed. Arizona’s Move Over Law was further changed to include any stationary vehicle that has flashing lights, and this brought in tow truck operators, emergency personnel, and any stranded motorist.
This law is in place to protect every driver from becoming the victim in an accident. Every year there are hundreds of fatalities from trucks and cars hitting vehicles that have been disabled, service oriented vehicles, emergency personnel, or traffic warden and police. The Move Over Law makes it obligatory for motorists to slow down or change lanes when they approach disabled or vehicles that have stopped and are displaying flashing or warning lights. At times, lane changing may not be possible as lanes are not available, or if the traffic does not make such changing feasible. In that case, you should slow down till you are past the spot where the vehicle is.
Failure by you, as a motorist, to take such preventive measures can result in a traffic citation that can lead to fines that vary between $150 to $650. It can also result in accidents that can injure you, plus leave you liable for compensation claims, your own medical bills, and probably horrendous repair bills for your vehicles. It could lead to your license being marked, your driving record being affected, which in turn can lead to higher insurance premiums, when you need to renew your policy.
What Do You Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down?
What action do you need to take when your vehicle breaks down on a highway? First move over to the road berm, while switching on your warning lights that will flash intermittently, and move as far away from the traffic lanes as possible. Do not get down unless you are sure that your warning lights are working. If it is an accident that you are involved in and forced you to stop, do not move on to the road to take photographs. Photographs are not necessary in accidents that have not caused any injuries. If you have been injured, attend to yourself first, before you take any other action. Call for help and wait by the side of your vehicle or in it, but definitely not in any part of a traffic lane. And pray and hope that every passing motorist going in thee same direction that you were travelling follows the Move Over Law, avoids your lane, or slows down.
Even though this law has been around for more than a decade, there are still motorists who never follow it. This has been confirmed in many traffic drills conducted on busy highways. Traffic police stopped their cars on one side of the road, and put on their warning lights. There were many motorists who did switch lanes or slowed down, but there were a few who did not. Thee people were stopped, given instructions and often received traffic citations and fines. This proves, that this is a law that all motorists are not aware of, or are negligent in following. This needs better education of drivers, a thing that can be taken care of by DMVs before issuing driving licenses. Driving training schools can be asked to emphasize the importance of the Move Over Law that can lead to better safety of all motorists, and reduce the chances of accidents.
The Move Over Law is different from the driving protocol that requires you to move to the next lane or stop to allow any emergency vehicle that is following you, by yielding right of way. In this protocol you can resume your journey only after the emergency vehicle has passed.
The Move Over Law in Arizona, as it exists at present, requires you to take the actions indicated in the law, every time you encounter a situation where you see flashing lights of any vehicle, whether it be an emergency vehicle, a tow truck, a police car or a stranded motorist. While this can slow down the flow of traffic on busy highways , it can go a long way in safeguarding lives, and preventing further accidents and fatalities.
This law in Arizona refers to all public roads and highways, and even includes local roads and streets. It can be enforced by any law enforcement officer, or other government officials charged with public safety. While all states that have passed Move Over Laws have the general requirement requiring motorists to change lanes or slow down when passing any vehicle that has flashing lights, laws may differ on how emergency scenes or situations requiring the application of this law are defined. There are some states that do not require a driver to change lanes, but to take due care and provide the vehicle flashing lights with enough space, when they encounter such situations.
Please, Move Over Arizona