Understanding Georgia’s Move Over Law

by hastypope on October 9, 2012

Georgia’s Move Over Law has been in effect since 2003 but, nearly a decade later, it’s alarming how many of the state’s drivers are uninformed about the law or disregard it altogether. This disregard has caused a myriad of auto accidents.

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The Move Over requires the driver of a car that is approaching an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road and displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red or blue lights to move over one lane if possible. “Moving over” must be done with caution, and only if possible; otherwise, the driver must reduce their vehicle’s speed to a safe one (below the posted speed limit) and be prepared to stop. Failing to obey the Move Over law can result in a $500 fine. Of course, it can result in other serious consequences.

Sadly, before Georgia’s Move Over law (Georgia Code, Title 40-6-16) was enacted, the number of law enforcement officers, firefighters, Department of Transportation workers and other public safety employees who were being injured or killed on the side of the road during routine traffic stops was growing. While that number has decreased since the law took effect, the Move Over law has not eliminated the dangers for these emergency and construction workers.

Georgia Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) officials cite FBI statistics as they report that traffic crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings. Of the dozens of officers who die in crashes across the country each year, too many of those law enforcement officers are struck and killed by passing vehicles while they worked outside their patrol cars, according to the GOHS.

“Georgia’s Move-Over Law was meant to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities to police officers, paramedics, firefighters, tow truck operators and highway maintenance workers,” says Harris Blackwood, director of the GOHS. “Reports show emergency vehicles of all types have been struck while parked beside Georgia highways, even while their emergency lights were flashing.”
The Move Over law protects not only Georgia’s emergency personnel, but also those on the side of the road whom they are either assisting or citing for a traffic violation. It also protects passing motorists who are required to follow the Move Over law.

GOHS: how the law makes a difference

  • 30 percent of all crashes occur as the result of another crash.
  • Providing a buffer lane for emergency vehicles parked on the roadway shoulder actually reduces the risk of another crash.
  • When the required clearance is given to roadside emergency vehicles, the margin of safety is increased, not only for public safety and emergency personnel, but for motorists and their passengers as well.
The Law Firm of Hasty Pope LLP in Atlanta, Gainesville, and Canton areas have a long history of community service to the state of Georgia. Our dedication to our clients and to our profession stems from our desire to benefit and help the communities where we live. Our areas of practice include auto accidents, wrongful death and other personal injury areas.

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