Janis Joplin famously sang “Please don’t do it to me…won’t you move over?”, and in New York and many other states, her plea to move over has been codified into law. Formally titled the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act, Section 1144-a of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law is commonly called the Move Over Law. Named after two law enforcement officers who lost their lives after being struck by cars during traffic stops, the law is intended to make roadways safer for those who work on and near New York roadways.
The law originally went into effect January 1, 2011 but was revised in 2016 to include additional classes of roadside workers. When they come upon red, or any combination of red, white and blue flashing lights signifying the presence of emergency vehicles like those driven by law enforcement officers, fire fighters and ambulance personnel, or tow/auto maintenance vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, as well as garbage and recycling trucks, whether those emergency vehicles are parked or moving, drivers must do two things:
- First, they must slow down to a safe speed for the situation, and
- Second, they must move over to the furthest lane from the emergency vehicle provided that the lane change is safe.
Drivers should always be alert when operating a motor vehicle and should be on the lookout not only for the flashing lights, but for signs, workers wearing safety vests or shirts, and other indications that a potentially hazardous situation exists. A violation of the Move Over Law can result in three points on your license, plus a hefty fine and mandatory NYS surcharge. You may also be ticketed with other violations, like speeding and unsafe lane change, which range from 3 – 11 points plus fines and surcharges depending on the charge – this is on top of the Move Over Law points, fine and surcharge. More importantly, though, your failure to obey the Move Over Law could result in death or serious injury to a roadside worker, someone receiving emergency assistance, or others – including you.
It’s just not worth it.
We have two seasons here in Central New York, winter and construction. Now that summer is officially here, crews are hard at work on roadsides everywhere you go. Please exercise caution when you are driving and make sure that everyone makes it home safely.
Jennifer B. Granzow
Ms. Granzow holds a JD from the Syracuse University College of Law. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of business and corporate law, real estate, economic development, and government relations, with an emphasis on grants and public funding.