What is the Move-Over Law?
It is a law that ultimately protects law enforcement officers by requiring motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance. In 1994, a Paramedic from South Carolina known as James D. Garcia was struck and injured at an accident scene. Similar events occurred across the U.S. in 2000, which caused the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to begin addressing the issue of Emergency Scene Safety.
In New Jersey, the Move Over law officially began in 2009. Officials began to urge motorists to follow the new laws and made it so that additional signs would be deployed across the state as a general reminder. This law is especially serious because there have been increasing amounts of roadside fatalities in the line of duty over the past few years. All 50 states have passed some form of the law, which have been promoted for years now.
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In November 2014, a press conference took place with speaker Assemblyman David Rible to reinforce the need for motorists to move over when emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the road. Rible is a former police officer who said that the law is not limited to major highways and stressed that it also applied to construction and utility workers who are displaying their emergency lights. He made reference to what could have been a very tragic event:
On October 11, 2014, a jeep sideswiped a New Jersey police car that was conducting a traffic stop. The driver remains at large to this day, but thank goodness nobody was injured in the crash. Rible stated that, had the officer been at the vehicle’s driver’s side door, the officer would certainly not be alive today.
The shameful fact of the matter is that not many people know about the law to this day, despite the fact that it is legally recognized and enforced. The major thing at this point in time is raising awareness to the issue so that less people end up injured as a result of these terrible and sometimes-fatal accidents.
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Sponsoring and support is necessary – and organizations like the Police Officers Brotherhood have donated funds to the cause to make sure that voices are heard. Rible stands by his statement: “We just need to get everyone to know that they’ll be safe on the side of the road.” This is a very important message. (1)
New Jersey officially has a state statute on the matter known as New Jersey Statute 39:4-92.2. The law states in clear writing that, any vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle displaying lights should approach with caution and proceed in the following way:
- Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle is possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions.
- If a lane change would be impossible, simply reduce the speed of the vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the road conditions, and be prepared to make a stop. (2)
Easy enough? We agree. It is a series of very simple steps and tasks we can make as citizens sharing the road to assure the safety of those on the sidelines.