Have you heard of the Florida Move Over Law? Roadside and interstate traffic stops have substantial risks, and many law enforcement officers and workers have been struck and killed due to these unsafe conditions. In an effort to combat these preventable tragedies, forty-three states, including Florida, have adopted what are referred to as “Move Over” laws. Florida Statute 316.126 outlines the “operation of vehicles and actions of pedestrians on approach of an authorized emergency, sanitation, or utility service vehicle,” and we summarize the statutes below.
Approaching Roadside Law Enforcement or Emergency Vehicle
The first part of the Florida “Move Over” statute describes how a driver should respond upon hearing and seeing the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle. The driver, upon hearing a siren, exhaust whistle, or visible blue and red lights, should yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle and go to the side of the road and clear of any intersection (as reasonably close to the edge of the curb of the roadway) as quickly as possible until the emergency vehicle has passed.
The second section of the Move Over law describes when a vehicle should change lanes when emergency vehicles (including sanitation vehicles, utility service vehicles, and wreckers) are stopped on a shoulder of an interstate highway or other highways with two or more lanes. In the state of Florida, drivers are required to respond differently upon encountering a roadside law enforcement or emergency vehicle with lights flashing depending on whether they are driving on a two-lane or multi-lane road. On a multi-lane road, the driver is legally required to move to one lane away from the roadside law enforcement or emergency vehicle. This allows for maximum safety during the event of a traffic stop or emergency. On a two-lane road, drivers are required to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, or 5 miles per hour in the event that the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour.
Safely Adhering to the Move Over Law
If a driver is unable to safely change lanes upon approaching a roadside law enforcement or emergency vehicle, then the driver must reduce their speed to at least 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. The driver should not stop their vehicle unless otherwise directed, as this impedes traffic flow and is hazardous. Drivers should use caution and proceed safely past the roadside scene, adhering to the required reduced speed. Pedestrians are also required to adhere to the Move Over law in Florida. When a pedestrian is using the road right-of-way, the walker should yield the right-of-way until the emergency vehicle has passed, unless a law enforcement officer on scene directs otherwise.
Failure to Comply with the Move Over Law in Florida
The state of Florida strictly enforces the “Move Over” law, however, it is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable pursuant to chapter 318 as a moving violation. Penalties may vary by county but generally consist of a fine of $120 and three points against the offender’s driving record.
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