Posted in Blog on May 30, 2019
Many states, including Georgia, have enacted some type of Move Over Law in an effort to protect workers and emergency personnel who respond to jobs on the side of the road. Every year, people lose their lives in roadside collisions. In 2017, nearly 800 people lost their lives in work zone accidents. This number does not include roadside accidents that happened outside of work zones, such as police stops. Failing to obey Georgia’s Move Over Law could lead to fines, or more serious penalties if the driver causes an accident.
Georgia’s Move Over Law, found in Georgia Code 40-6-16, states that all drivers must move at least one lane over to accommodate any stopped emergency or utility vehicle when traveling on a road with two or more lanes. If it is not reasonably possible to move a lane over, drivers must reduce their speeds to a reasonable proper speed for road and traffic conditions (a speed lower than the posted speed limit) and prepare to come to a stop. The Move Over Law applies to many different types of stopped vehicles.
The stopped vehicle must display a flashing red, blue, white, yellow, or amber light for the Move Over Law to apply. The only exception to the rule is if a peace officer is present and directing traffic to do something else. In this case, the driver should follow the officer’s directions rather than switching lanes. As soon as a driver sees the stopped vehicle with flashing lights, he or she have a responsibility to move one lane away from the stopped vehicle, or to slow down if it is impossible or unsafe to move over.
If a driver fails to make a lane change or slow down to a reasonable speed when passing a stopped emergency or utility vehicle with its flashing lights engaged, the driver has committed a traffic infraction. The fine for this infraction can go up to $500. Law enforcement in Georgia takes the Move Over Law very seriously. Drivers that negligently or intentionally ignore the rules can put worker and officer lives in danger. For this reason, police officers will often work hard to catch offenders and hold them responsible for their misconduct.
If a driver causes a car accident, injuries, or deaths by failing to Move Over according to the directions of the law, that driver could face criminal charges and civil liability for damages. The penalties for this offense can be severe, including jail time and loss of the driving privilege. The at-fault driver may also have to pay for the victims’ restitution, including damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and vehicle damages.
A potential defense to a Move Over Law violation would be that the driver could not reasonably move into another lane due to existing traffic and safety conditions. Another potential defense would be that the driver did in fact reduce your vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed under the circumstances. If you were in an accident involving a vehicle that failed to move over, hire an attorney to help you prove the defendant’s fault.