When was the last time you were driving down the road and saw a police car, ambulance, or fire truck on the side of the road helping out another vehicle? Chances are, it wasn't too long ago, maybe this morning or last night. Seeing an emergency vehicle pulled over is a weekly – if not daily – occurrence in Southwest Florida, especially during "Season". However, from the way some drivers act, it's evident that many Floridians don't fully understand the Florida Move Over Law and how it applies to them.
What Is the Florida Move Over Law?
The Florida Move Over Law was originally implemented in 2002 and requires all drivers to move over when a police car, emergency vehicle, first-responder, tow-truck, sanitation vehicle, and/or utility vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with its lights flashing. If you cannot move over, you're required to slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
The law is intended to protect professionals who come to the aid of disabled drivers. Think about it: These public safety professionals are standing just a couple of feet from people who are driving 50 mph or above. These individuals are already putting their lives at risk, and it's important that you not only understand the risk but also, make the situation as safe as possible for them. Knowing that they are safe allows them to focus on their jobs and may very well save lives. Violating the Florida Move Over Law puts both yourself and public safety professionals at risk, not to mention the people they are attempting to assist.
Here's Some Additional Information About the Law:
- If you're on a multi-lane roadway: If you approach an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing parked on the side of a multi-lane road, you must move over and change lanes away from the emergency vehicle as soon as it's safe to do so. It's important that you move away from the lane that's closest to an emergency vehicle in order to prevent crashing into the emergency vehicle or any emergency workers who are trying to do their job.
- If you're on a two-lane roadway: If you approach an emergency vehicle on the side of a two-lane road, you must slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach the vehicle(s) with caution.
- Always remain alert when approaching an emergency vehicle. It's the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others when you're on the road. Remember to pay attention to public safety professionals and to always follow their directions if they're directing traffic. If you keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to the activity around you, you'll be able to anticipate problems and react more quickly to any potentially dangerous events.
What Are the Penalties?
If you break Florida's Move Over law and you're caught, you will be issued a ticket and will have to pay a fine. According to the Sun Sentinel, the Florida Highway Patrol issued 8,273 violations in 2012. More seriously, by not following the law you could crash into an emergency vehicle or hit an emergency worker, causing serious injury or death to yourself or someone else.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of someone else, contact the Dellutri Law Group today for a free consultation.