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Police officers and firefighters have inherently dangerous jobs. Their work often takes them to the side of the road where they are vulnerable to drivers who may or may not be paying attention and observing the speed limit.
In 2009, New Jersey introduced the “Move Over” law requiring drivers to change lanes, slow down, and prepare to stop when passing roadside emergency workers including police, firefighters, ambulance workers, and tow truck operators. The law has been on the books for nearly two decades, but many New Jersey drivers are still unaware of it, putting emergency roadside workers in great danger.
The Move Over law requires drivers approaching authorized emergency vehicles with flashing or alternating red or blue lights to proceed with caution. If traffic conditions allow, drivers should make a lane change not adjacent to the emergency vehicle. If a lane change is not possible, drivers should slow down below the speed limit and be prepared to stop. This part of the law covers ambulance, fire, and police vehicles.
New Jersey is also one of thirty states to require reduced speeds or lane changes when approaching parked tow trucks, highway maintenance vehicles, and emergency service vehicles with flashing red or yellow lights. Last year, former Governor Chris Christie signed “Michael Massey’s Law” expanding the Move Over law to include sanitation trucks. The law is named in honor of a New Jersey sanitation employee killed on the job. Drivers who violate the state’s Move Over law face fines of between $100 and $500.
The law is on the books, but many emergency workers are not convinced that New Jersey’s drivers know about it or observe it. According to a recent study released by the American Automobile Association (AAA), 60 percent of the state’s police officers and tow truck operators do not believe New Jersey drivers know about the Move Over law. Sixty-one percent said they do not feel any safer than they did in 2009 when the Move Over law was created.
AAA also surveyed New Jersey drivers. Eighty-four percent said they knew about the Move Over law and sixty-one percent said they change lanes or stop for emergency vehicles. The discrepancy may lie in what drivers and emergency workers perceive to be a safe speed when navigating around roadside workers.
To address this communication gap, the state Assembly and Senate both approved a law requiring the Department of Transportation to develop public awareness campaigns and electronic signs reminding drivers of the Move Over law. If greater public awareness saves even one life, the law will be worthwhile.
Police officers, firefighters, and other roadside emergency workers provide invaluable public services every day. Drivers are responsible for protecting the workers who protect and assist us. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job by a careless driver, the South Jersey personal injury lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. are here to help.
At Folkman Law Offices, we fight tirelessly to ensure you and your loved ones are fairly compensated for the pain and suffering you have endured. We strive to achieve the best possible outcome for your case so you can focus completely on your recovery. To schedule your free case review with a highly-skilled Cherry Hill car accident lawyer, call 856-354-9444 or submit an online inquiry today. Our offices are located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to serve clients throughout the surrounding area.