Texas and the Move-Over Law
If you experience a car emergency, are in a traffic accident, or are pulled over by the police, you naturally pull off to the shoulder for safety’s sake. Unfortunately, this practice has become less and less safe over the years. Each year, the number of officers on the scene and emergency personnel who are injured or killed by oncoming traffic continues to rise.
When you see a police vehicle or a fire or emergency vehicle with its lights flashing, you are obligated by Texas law to slow down and to move to a more distant lane (whenever possible). This law has been expanded to also include slowing down and yielding for Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) workers on the side of the road. If another driver’s negligence leaves you injured in a car accident, seek the experienced legal counsel of a skilled Central Texas personal injury attorney.
Move Over or Slow Down
Texas has a Move Over or Slow Down law on the books. This law mandates that motorists must respond to police, fire, and emergency vehicles that have their flashing lights on by slowing down and moving to another lane. Since issuance, the law has been expanded to also include the TxDOT workers. If you are driving in the lane closest to an emergency vehicle or worker, you must reduce your speed and move into a lane farther away (whenever possible). If you are driving at highway speeds, you must slow down by at least 20 miles per hour, and if you are on a 25 mph surface road, you must reduce your speed to 5 mph as you pass the emergency vehicle or TxDOT worker.
Unfortunately, the Move Over or Slow Down law has not eliminated unnecessary accidents involving emergency and TxDOT workers. When you drive, always make driving safely your top priority, and this includes being on the lookout for people on the side of the road. Whether the vehicle you see on the road’s shoulder is an emergency vehicle or not, you should always slow down and move safely to a more left-hand lane when you encounter people and/or vehicles on the roadside. Even if the vehicle appears abandoned, there could be a person nearby whom you simply do not see. If your own vehicle breaks down or is incapacitated in an accident, get as far over on the shoulder as you possibly can and exit through the passenger door. Allow as much space as possible between you and the roadway while you wait for the emergency vehicle to arrive.