Automobile accidents can have serious consequences. However, not all accidents are the result of two vehicles that collide while driving. Many accidents involve pedestrians, which can cause even greater damages than a vehicle-vehicle collision. Unfortunately, people who have pulled over to the side of the road are at great risk for these types of accidents.
Alabama law includes the Move Over Act, which requires all motorists to move over lanes for stopped law enforcement vehicles whenever possible. Following this law can help prevent accidents – and recent additions may expand the scope of this law even further to protect more people on the roads.
What Does the Move Over Act Require?
Alabama established the Move Over Act to help prevent law enforcement deaths in traffic accidents. Whenever Alabama drivers encounter certain vehicles parked on the roadside, all drivers must vacate the lane closest to the stopped vehicle if possible. This applies to highways, as well as any other roads that have more than one lane headed in the same direction.
However, it is not always safe to move over due to traffic or a lack of lanes. In these conditions, a driver must reduce his or her speed to at least fifteen miles below the posted speed limit when passing the parked vehicle. On roads where the posted speed limit is less than twenty miles per hour, motorists must reduce speed to ten miles per hour. The only exception to these speeds is when a law enforcement officer directs otherwise.
Several parked vehicles along the roadside require moving over or reducing speed. They include:
- Law enforcement vehicles
- Emergency vehicles
- Police and emergency vehicles displaying visual signs, like flashing lights
- Car crashes involving flashing or amber rotating lights
- Utility service vehicles displaying rotating or flashing lights
- Garbage, refuse, and recycling vehicles when on active duty
As a motorist, if you encounter any of these vehicles parked on the road, you need to follow appropriate procedures. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor that will result in a $25 fine for the first offense, a $50 fine for a second offense, and a $100 fine for third or subsequent violations. If you happen to cause an accident by not following the law, you could have additional consequences in a personal injury claim.
Recent Changes to the Move Over Act
While the circumstances currently covered by the Move Over Act account for many vehicles parked on the side of the road, they do not apply to all. Even outside of accidents, regular passenger vehicles have a chance of encountering problems like a flat tire that force them to pull over to the side of the road. Alabama acknowledges these cases and is in the process of updating the Move Over Act to better reflect the state of the roads.
The proposed update to the Move Over Act would require motorists to change lanes or reduce their speed not just for specified vehicles parked on the side of the road, but all vehicles. This will help protect any citizens who need to pull off the road.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed this update into law in April this year. There are also plans for law enforcement to increase the enforcement of this law, both before and after the new updates go into effect.
For motorists on the road, paying attention to parked vehicles on the side of the road is an essential step to enforcing safety. Staying up-to-date with the requirements of the new law will help all drivers and passengers get to their destinations safely, as well as prevent facing any penalties for violating the law.