Stop Roadside Accidents: Move Over More

roadside accidents attorney

To reduce roadside accidents in Florida, the law now requires drivers to slow down or move over for any broken-down vehicle on the side of the road – not just emergency vehicles.

The AAA Auto Safety Foundation reports that a new measure strengthening the state’s “Move Over” law will take effect on January 1, 2024. Drivers will now be required to slow down or move over for any disabled vehicles displaying emergency flares, hazard lights, or emergency signage. Those who violate the law could be fined up to $158 along with a noncriminal moving violation.

“AAA began advocating for a stronger law late last year with our ‘Move Over for Me’ campaign,” said Mark Jenkins, Public Relations Manager for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We are extremely grateful that Florida lawmakers took this necessary action to enhance protection for all motorists, in addition to the first responders who come to their aid.”

Florida is the 15th state that requires motorists to also slow down for broken-down vehicles.

The Prevalence of Roadside Accidents

Historically, the roadside has been a dangerous place for disabled motorists, emergency workers, and tow truck drivers. On average, nearly 350 people per year are struck and killed while outside a disabled vehicle on the roadside from 2016-2020. Furthermore, two emergency responders, including tow workers, are struck and killed every month by a driver who fails to obey the law by moving over to an adjacent lane and allowing the roadside rescuers the space to operate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tow Operators at Risk

Roadside accidents are notably deadly for tow workers. Government data shows that tow operators are killed at a rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other industries. This highlights the need for increased awareness and stricter enforcement of laws that protect these individuals.

Causes of Roadside Accidents

Distracted Driving: One of the primary causes of roadside accidents is distracted driving. When drivers are not paying attention to the road, they may not notice a disabled vehicle or emergency responders on the shoulder. This can lead to collisions and, in some cases, fatalities.

Failure to Obey Move-Over Laws: Many states have enacted “Move Over” laws that require drivers to slow down and move over when approaching a disabled vehicle or emergency responders on the roadside. However, not all drivers are aware of these laws or choose to ignore them, putting lives at risk.

Poor Road Conditions

Roadside accidents can also be attributed to poor road conditions, such as potholes, narrow shoulders, and inadequate lighting. These factors can make it difficult for drivers to see and avoid disabled vehicles or emergency responders on the roadside.

Impact on the Public

Traffic Congestion: Roadside accidents often lead to traffic congestion, especially on highways and busy roads. This can result in significant delays for motorists and may even cause additional accidents as drivers attempt to navigate around the scene.

Economic Costs: The economic costs associated with roadside accidents are substantial. These costs include lost productivity, medical expenses, and property damage. Additionally, emergency responders and tow truck drivers may face financial hardships due to lost wages and the potential for damage to their vehicles and equipment.

Emotional Toll: Roadside accidents can have a significant emotional impact on those involved, as well as their families. The loss of life or the potential for serious injury can be overwhelming for all parties, leading to long-lasting trauma and grief.

Preventing Roadside Accidents

Increased Awareness and Education: One of the most effective ways to prevent roadside accidents is through increased awareness and education. Motorists must be made aware of the dangers of roadside accidents and the importance of following Move Over laws. This can be achieved through public awareness campaigns, driver education programs, and media coverage.

Stricter Enforcement of Laws: Another crucial factor in preventing roadside accidents is the stricter enforcement of existing laws. This includes harsher penalties for those who violate Move Over laws and increased police presence on roads and highways to ensure compliance.

Improved Road Infrastructure: Investing in better road infrastructure can help reduce the occurrence of roadside accidents. This includes wider shoulders, better lighting, and road maintenance to address potholes and other hazards that can contribute to accidents.

Tips for Drivers

Remain Alert and Avoid Distractions: To prevent roadside accidents, drivers should remain alert and avoid distractions while driving. This includes refraining from using cell phones, adjusting radios, or engaging in any other activity that takes their attention away from the road.

Observe and Follow Move-Over Laws: Drivers must be aware of and follow Move Over laws in their state. This means slowing down and moving over for disabled vehicles and emergency responders on the roadside. If it is not possible to move over, drivers should slow down to a safe speed while passing the scene.

Tips for Stranded Motorists

Create a Safe Buffer: If you find yourself stranded on the roadside, pull over as far to the shoulder as possible to create more distance between your vehicle and oncoming traffic. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to your situation.

Call for Assistance: Call for assistance as soon as possible, whether through a phone, website, or an app like AAA. It’s essential to get help quickly to reduce the time you spend on the roadside and minimize the risk of an accident.

Remain with Your Vehicle: If it is safe to do so, remain with your vehicle while waiting for help. This can help prevent additional accidents, as drivers are more likely to notice a vehicle with a person nearby.

Watch for Oncoming Traffic: If you must exit your vehicle, do so with caution and remain close to your vehicle. Keep an eye on oncoming traffic and avoid turning your back to the road whenever possible.

If you’ve been injured in a car crash, talk to an Orlando car accident attorney at the Martinez Manglardi personal injury law firm. Call 866-730-3508 for a free consultation. Convenient locations throughout Central Florida.

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