New Move Over Laws Took Effect October 1

Intended to Increase Safety for Police/Fire Personnel and Bicyclists

PIKESVILLE, Md. (October 2, 2010)—New traffic laws took effect October 1st that require drivers to ‘move over,’ if possible, and are aimed at increasing safety for police, fire and emergency medical services personnel working on Maryland roadsides, as well as those riding bicycles or scooters.

A new law requires drivers approaching from the rear an emergency vehicle using visual signals while stopped on a highway to, if possible, ‘make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.’ This movement should only be done if another lane in the same direction is available and the move can be made safely and without impeding other traffic. If moving to another lane away from the stopped emergency vehicle is not possible, the law requires drivers to ‘slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.’

The intent of the ‘move over’ law is to provide an extra barrier of safety for police officers, fire fighters, and emergency rescue personnel working along Maryland roads. It is hoped drivers will become more aware of police and emergency workers stopped along the road and move away from them or slow down as they pass by the traffic stop or incident scene.

Under Maryland Vehicle Law, emergency vehicles are defined as:

— Vehicles of federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies;

— Vehicles of volunteer fire companies, rescue squads, fire departments, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, and the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute;

— State vehicles used in response to oil or hazardous materials spills;

— State vehicles designated for emergency use by the Commissioner of Correction;

— Ambulances; and

— Special vehicles funded or provided by federal, state, or local government and used for emergency or rescue purposes in Maryland.

Violation of the ‘move over’ law is a primary offense with a fine of $110 and one point. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash resulting in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points.

A similar law is aimed at increasing safety for bicyclists or persons operating a motor scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD). This law requires drivers overtaking a bicycle, EPAMD, or motor scooter rider to pass safely at a distance of not less than three feet. Exceptions are when the conveyance operator is not obeying the law or is solely responsible for creating a clearance of less than three feet, or if the highway is not wide enough to pass the vehicle at a distance of at least three feet.

Drivers must also yield the right of way to a bicycle, EPAMD, or motor scooter being operated lawfully in a designated bike lane or shoulder if the driver of the motor vehicle is about to enter or cross the bike lane or shoulder.

A violation of this law is a primary offense with a fine of $80 and one point. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $120 and three points.

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