The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently released a study with some alarming statistics –nearly a quarter of United States drivers don’t know that “Slow down, Move over” laws exist. Worse, over 40 percent of motorists who are aware of the laws don’t bother to follow them. The organization urges national awareness of Move Over legislation for the safety of everyone on the road.
According to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, although all 50 states have a Move Over law, 23 percent of respondents surveyed were unaware of the law in the state where they lived. Forty-two percent of survey respondents who don’t comply with Move Over laws believe their behavior is only “somewhat” or “not dangerous at all” to roadside emergency workers.
However, in a press release, AAA stated that an “average of 24 emergency responders including tow providers are struck and killed by vehicles while working on the roadside each year – meaning someone in this line of work is killed, on average, every other week.” They add that, in addition to tow truck drivers and first responders, over 1,600 people have lost their lives since 2015 from being struck near disabled vehicles.
AAA believes these deaths are preventable, pointing out that drivers are more and more distracted while driving – and between four and eight times more likely to cause a car crash when using a cell phone behind the wheel.
What is Nevada’s Move Over law?
Nevada has had a “Move Over” law on its books since 2003. In 2017, that law – Nevada Revised Statute 484B.607 – was updated to read:
- Upon approaching any traffic incident, the driver of the approaching vehicle shall, in the absence of other direction given by a law enforcement officer:
- Decrease the speed of the vehicle to a speed that is reasonable and proper;
- Proceed with caution;
- Be prepared to stop; and
- If possible, drive in a lane that is not adjacent to the lane or lanes where the traffic incident is located unless roadway, traffic, weather or other conditions make doing so unsafe or impossible.
The law has also expanded its definition of a “traffic incident.” Before, it was only emergency vehicles that had pulled over to the side of the road, provided their “amber lights” were flashing. Today, a driver is expected to slow down, stop, or move over for “any vehicle, person, condition or other traffic hazard that is located on or near a roadway and which poses a danger to the flow of traffic or to a person involved in, responding to or assisting with the traffic hazard. The term includes, without limitation:
- An authorized emergency vehicle which is stopped and is making use of flashing lights
- A tow car which is stopped and is making use of flashing amber warning lights or lamps that emit nonflashing blue light
- An authorized vehicle used by the Department of Transportation which is stopped or moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic and which is making use of flashing amber warning lights or lamps that emit nonflashing blue light
- A vehicle, owned or operated by a person who contracts with the Department of Transportation to provide aid to motorists or to mitigate traffic incidents, which is stopped or moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic and making use of lamps that emit nonflashing blue light
- A public utility vehicle which is stopped or moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic and is making use of flashing amber warning lights
- An authorized vehicle of a local governmental agency which is stopped or moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic and is making use of flashing amber warning lights
- Any vehicle which is stopped or moving at a speed slower than the normal flow of traffic and is making use of flashing amber warning lights
- A crash scene;
- A stalled vehicle;
- Debris on the roadway; or
- A person who is out of his or her vehicle attending to a repair of the vehicle.”
Failure to move over is a big deal. You can be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail sentence of up to six months in jail, and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
How to avoid roadside accidents
Motorists should always proceed with caution whenever they see flashing lights or hazard lights. “If you see something, anything, on the shoulder ahead, slow down and move over,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “It could literally save someone’s life.”
AAA offers motorists tips on improving highway safety and preventing more tragic roadside car crashes. Take the following into consideration when driving, as well as stay cautious if you experience auto trouble yourself.
- Always stay alert behind the wheel and avoid distracted driving.
- Keep a lookout for emergency vehicles, disabled cars and trucks, tow trucks, and utility or construction vehicles stopped on the side of the road or highway.
- When you see flashing lights or disabled vehicles, move over to an adjacent lane as soon as possible. Slow down to a safer speed, typically 10 to 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit, until you’re safely past the scene.
- Approach any stopped vehicle with caution if you’re not able to move over, like on a two-lane roadway. Slow down to a speed 10 to 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit, unless instructed otherwise by authorities.
What should I do if my car breaks down?
As soon as you notice your car is having trouble, quickly and safely pull over to the side of the road, as far to the right as possible. Then, put on your hazard lights – this is the most effective way to notify other drivers to slow down and move over when possible. If it’s dark out, use reflective markers if you have them and stay in your vehicle. Notify authorities and call for a tow truck.
Do not exit your vehicle unless you’re in a residential or very low-traffic area. Leaving your vehicle leaves you open to injury or death from inattentive and careless motorists. Never attempt to cross an interstate, or stand next to or behind your car. Remain calm and don’t panic. Patience can save your life.
If you were injured in a highway or disabled vehicle accident in Las Vegas or anywhere in Nevada, talk to the team at Claggett & Sykes Law Firm today. We want to help. We determine the cause of your accident, the severity of your injuries, and the total scope of your losses, working to secure the financial compensation to which you’re entitled. If you have any questions about a potential claim, call us today in Las Vegas or Reno at 702.333.7777 or fill out our contact form. Consultations are free.
We are not simply a personal injury firm. We are trial lawyers who take on catastrophic injury, brain injury, and wrongful death cases. These cases are different than most personal injury cases and the needs of these cases cannot be met by law firms that take on just any case.
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