As a driver, it is your constant responsibility to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others. This duty includes obeying all state and federal traffic laws. Florida’s Move Over Law is an effort to prevent tragedies that occur when a driver strikes a vehicle parked on the side of the road. It is a rule that requires drivers to slow down and/or move over for stopped vehicles. Understanding and obeying the Move Over Law is your duty as a driver in the state of Florida.
The Language of the Law
Florida Statutes Sections 316.126 contains Florida’s Move Over Law. It states that when a vehicle approaches an authorized emergency vehicle that has parked on the roadside with visible emergency signals flashing, the driver must either vacate the lane closest to the vehicle or reduce his or her speed. The Move Over law also applies to stopped sanitation service and utility service vehicles that are performing job-related tasks and displaying visual signals. Wreckers with rotating or flashing amber lights that are recovering or loading on the roadside also fall under the law’s protections.
If a driver can safely do so, he or she must switch lanes away from the stopped emergency or service vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. The goal is to leave the lane closest to the stopped vehicle vacant to improve the safety of its occupants or pedestrians that may be on the side of the road. Vacating the lane can give the stopped vehicle the room it needs during the rendering of its services, supporting workers’ peace of mind and safety.
If it is not safe for a driver to vacate the lane, he or she must slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted limit. If the speed limit is less than 20 miles per hour, drivers must slow to a speed of five miles per hour while passing the stopped vehicle. The same is true when driving on a two-lane road. Slowing down to a safer speed can help the driver avoid colliding with the stopped vehicle – potentially saving lives. The only time a driver may act outside the limits of the Move Over Act is if a law enforcement officer directs otherwise.
A Driver’s Duty to Exercise Reasonable Care
Florida is one of 43 states that have enacted Move Over Laws. States begin initiating these laws because of the high number of drivers, vehicle passengers, workers, and pedestrians dying while stopped on the side of the road. Close proximity to vehicles poses immense risks to stopped workers – especially when drivers are speeding, texting and driving, drunk driving, or otherwise engaged in negligent or reckless driving practices. Dozens of emergency and utility service workers have died throughout the U.S. in just such accidents.
Obeying the Move Over Law in Florida can help you become more aware of stopped emergency and utility vehicles in Florida. If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, slow down and turn your blinker on. Start looking for a way to safely merge into the next lane, away from the stopped vehicle. If you are in the middle lane, consider moving to the fast lane to accommodate other drivers. Everyone should reduce their speeds and stay aware of the situation. Keeping your attention on the road at all times can help prevent serious collisions with stopped vehicles or pedestrians.
Breaking the Law
If you break Florida’s Move Over Laws, you could receive a traffic infraction and a fine. Your offense may be a moving violation or pedestrian violation depending on the circumstances. If you cause a serious injury or death while breaking the Move Over Laws, you could face a misdemeanor or felony charge. You may also be liable for the damages of the victims. Keep yourself and others on the roadway safe. Follow Florida’s Move Over Laws anytime you operate a vehicle in the Sunshine State.
Contact our Miami car accident attorneys today at (305) 638-4143.