State Police Remind Motorists to 'Move Over'

The Maryland Move Over Law requires that, if you see emergency lights at the side of the road, you must slow down or move over into another lane, away from the emergency scene.

A Howard County Police Department officer, a person he had in custody, and a driver who hit them were hospitalized Jan. 22 in Mt. Airy.

An engine from the Brooklandville Fire Station was hit on I-83; and a vehicle from Lutherville was struck on I-695.

Those are just a few of the collisions that have occurred when motorists don't obey a state law that requires motorists to move over, or at least slow down, if they come across emergency vehicles.

The state's "Move Over Law" went into effect Oct. 1, 2010, and State Police want to remind drivers about it.

"Move over or slow down in order to provide an extra barrier of safety for officers, firefighters and emergency rescue personnel working along Maryland roadways," said Col. Marcus Brown, superintendent of .

Brown was one of five emergency response leaders to speak Wednesday morning during a news conference at the .

Drivers still don't know about the law, so emergency responders still find themselves and their equipment in danger of being struck by passing motorists, he said.

"Clearly, we believe there is a need to boost awareness for this law," Brown said after naming several State Police incidents where troopers were injured after being struck by motorists. "Ultimately, we want the public to make it a habit to slow down or move over whenever they see the blue and red lights."

Also speaking were Baltimore County police Chief Jim Johnson, Howard County police Chief William McMahon, Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund Executive Director Kent Krabbe and Lt. Scott Goldstein of the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company.

Each mentioned other incidents where complying with the Move Over Law could have saved injury, narrow escapes with death, or death itself.

It's important to follow this law in order to keep emergency first-responders safe, Johnson said.

"There is no equipment strong enough to protect them [emergency responders] from passing vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds," he said.

"Often time officers will have to dive out of the way, and often they have nowhere to go."

To help residents become aware of the law, Brown said he designates May as Move Over Month.

"May is the month where emergency responders are remembered for the sacrifice that we make in protecting the citizens of Maryland," he said. So it's fitting that the law be addressed annually during that month.

Brown also unveiled a new bumper sticker that will be used on police, fire, and State Highway Administration vehicles and by other agencies throughout the state.

The sticker, supplied by the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, states: "If I'm on the Shoulder, Slow Down, Move Over. It's the Law."

Traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of law enforcement fatalities over the last decade in the United States, said Kent Krabbe, MAIF executive director.

"The more that drivers are aware of this law, the more likely it is that when approaching an emergency vehicle on the shoulder, they will recognize the situation and move over ... " he said.

McMahon thanked the legislators who approved the law.

He said that motorists can show their appreciation for emergency responders by complying with it.

In addition, he asked for the same courtesy for other workers.

"Even though the law does not cover our friends at [State Highway Administration] and public works who are out there in a very dangerous position, we need ... our driving community to move over for them as well," he said.

Maryland was one of the last three states to pass this type of law, according to a State Police news release.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, since 1999, more than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed after being struck by vehicles along America's highways, the release states.

Evets March 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM
It is not a new law that vehicles must "move over" as you refer to it. Motor vehicles have always been required to pass bicycles at a safe distance. It has only been recently that the safe distance was specified as 3 feet. Sorry that some drivers feel put out that they are expected to allow all legal travelers on a road to travel safely. Sometimes when I am in my car and I am in a hurry, those darn stop signs and red lights are a real inconvenience. But I stop anyway, because it is the safe, courteous, and moral thing to do. It is also the law.
Bart March 23, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Of course, this is important. But there are now signs on 695, and maybe on 83 that say something like: Move over (or Slow) for Emergency Vehicles on Shoulder. Now: do you move to the shoulder for emergency vehicles that are travelling in the travel lanes? Or, if the emergency vehicle is on the shoulder, where do you go? Of course, slowing makes the most sense, but the signeage is silly and quite unclear - surely a lesson in basic grammar is called for. Who's printing these things? Not too unlike the menu at our favorite Asian Restaurant - "No rice come with"
Jennifer April 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM
People, come on! Just SLOW DOWN and if POSSIBLE, MOVE OVER. Do we really need to go into details? Just drive safely, anticipate a car door opening on the side of the road due to an emergency, etc. The Law SHOULD cover the State Highway Admin.! The blue collar workers who work on improving our roads and their safety are out there every day and night somewhere and MANY are killed by motorists!
Bon April 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Very well said Jennifer!!!!! bottom line SLOW DOWN and/or MOVE OVER....keep your eyes on the road, NOT WHAT IS GOING ON,ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.this also causes accidents. Emergency workers, road workers and people fixing flat tires have been killed because people are so busy looking ...we have all seen cars being stopped, accidents and road workers before...it all comes down to follow the law.If these were your family members you would want them to be safe.
ryan b August 23, 2012 at 03:15 PM
so why don't more people do it.i work for sha and i risk my life every day to earn a paycheck to support my family.common courtesy isn't so common any more


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