Middle TN Police Say Drivers Aren’t Obeying “Move Over” Law
A close call on Monday when a driver sideswiped a Mt. Juliet police cruiser on Interstate 40 and narrowly missed the responding officer highlighted the fact that few drivers in Tennessee obey the state’s “Move Over” law.
According to a report by WKRN.com, the law was passed in 2006 when Tennessee became the 30th state in the nation to require drivers to shift lanes when they begin to approach an emergency vehicle, such as a police car, firetruck, or ambulance, that’s on the side of the road.
A sergeant with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office told reporters that video of Monday’s incident in Mt. Juliet is a reminder that drivers often don’t follow the law or aren’t paying attention to the road and fail to see when there’s a stopped emergency vehicle in front of them. By the time they realize it, it’s too late for them to safely change lanes, so they make abrupt maneuvers that endanger themselves and others.
He also said that many drivers are distracted due to smartphones and are looking down while driving on highways and interstates instead of at the roadway.
Tennessee’s “Move Over” law provides exceptions, as drivers will not be ticketed if they slow down and proceed with caution if there’s no room for them to change lanes away from the stopped emergency vehicles.
3 Facts All Drivers Should Know about Tennessee’s “Move Over” Law
Whether it’s a stopped police car, ambulance, rescue vehicle, or fire truck, encountering an emergency vehicle on the side of the road is a common occurrence for most drivers in Tennessee. The state enacted its “Move Over” law in 2006, becoming the 30th state in the nation to do so, in order to protect emergency responders who must exit their vehicles and walk or stand near high-speed traffic.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know how important this law is when it comes to saving the lives of emergency responders, and we believe all drivers should know these three facts:
- The law was recently expanded to include utility vehicles with flashing lights.
Emergency responders aren’t the only workers who face dangers when they stop their vehicles near traffic. Utility workers who help complete road repairs and assist drivers during emergency situations are also protected by the law. That means you should always change lanes away from the shoulder any time you see a stopped vehicle with flashing lights up ahead—even if it’s not an emergency vehicle.
- Drivers who fail to move over can be ticketed and even jailed.
The “Move Over” law isn’t something to take lightly when you get behind the wheel. Drivers who fail to move over can be fined between $100 and $500 and even face jail time of up to 30 days. Additional violations can cost drivers between $500 and $1,000.
- More than 1,000 citations were issued between 2006 and 2014 in three Middle TN counties.
If you think police never or rarely ticket drivers who fail to move over, consider this statistic: police in three counties in Middle Tennessee—Davidson, Williamson, and Rutherford—issued more than 1,000 citations between the time the law was passed and 2014. Police in Robertson County issued 350 citations, while police in Sumner County issued 671 during that same time period.
Both police and judges say that ignorance of the law is no excuse to avoid receiving a citation—especially now that the law has been in effect for a decade. The safest way to obey the law is to immediately make plans to change lanes as soon as you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, even if it’s hundreds of feet away. The sooner you make plans to move over, the safer you and other drivers will be.
The Nashville auto accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law know that emergency responders and utility workers aren’t the only people who are in danger due to motorists who don’t pay attention. When any driver fails to concentrate on the roadway, he or she can seriously endanger others. If you or someone you know was injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. To speak with our legal team about your options, dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.