When you see an emergency vehicle or police car pulled over on the shoulder of the highway, what do you do? Many drivers instinctively move away from that shoulder and, if possible, change lanes to allow the vehicle more room. In fact, doing this is the law in over 30 states, including Georgia. This is what’s known as the Move Over Law, which we’ll discuss in more detail in this post.
What Is the Move Over Law in Georgia?
The Move Over Law, Georgia Code, Title 40-6-16, states that highway drivers must move over one lane, when possible, for emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder of Georgia highways. If you can’t move over due to heavy traffic, you should slow down and be prepared to come to a complete stop if need be.
Specifically, the law states that drivers must move over for any “authorized emergency vehicle,” which is considered “a motor vehicle belonging to a public utility corporation or operated by the Department of Transportation and designated as an emergency vehicle by the Department of Public Safety; a motor vehicle belonging to a fire department or a certified private vehicle belonging to a volunteer firefighter or a fire-fighting association, partnership, or corporation; an ambulance; or a motor vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, provided such vehicle is in use as an emergency vehicle by one authorized to use it for that purpose.”
You are also required to move over for any “statutory towing or recovery vehicle, a stationary highway maintenance vehicle, or a stationary utility service vehicle that is utilizing traffic cones or displaying flashing yellow amber, white or red lights.”
The law applies to any vehicles considered a “utility service vehicle” or “utility services.” A utility service vehicle is considered “any vehicle being used by an employee or contractor of any entity, including, but not limited to, a political subdivision of this state or a local authority or commission related thereto, an electric cooperative, or a public or private corporation, in connection with the provision of utility services.” Likewise, utility services “includes electric, natural gas, water, waste-water, cable, telephone, or telecommunication services or the repair, location, relocation, improvement, or maintenance of utility poles, transmission structures, pipes, wires, fibers, cables, easements, rights of way, and associated infrastructure.”
The website for the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety explicitly states: “Vehicles included in the law include all first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO Units and wreckers tending to an accident.”
How Much Is a Ticket in GA for Violating the Move Over Law?
Georgia drivers who don’t move over for emergency vehicles can be fined $500. In other states, the fine can reach as high as $1,000.
Fines aside, there can be even more serious consequences for not adhering to the Move Over Law: You could seriously injure or kill an emergency response worker, police officer, the civilian they’re responding to, or even yourself or the passengers in your car.
While the Move Over Law explicitly requires drivers to move over for emergency response vehicles, including DOT vehicles and tow trucks, it’s a good idea to exercise this safety precaution anytime you see a vehicle pulled over on the shoulder of the highway. Even if it’s just another driver, move over one lane to give them a safe amount of space as you pass.
What Happens if You Don’t Follow Georgia’s Move Over Law?
Why is it so important to follow Georgia’s Move Over Law? Aside from the $500 fine, the injuries you could cause to yourself or someone else can be life-altering.
One Champion Firm client unfortunately serves as living proof of the damage not moving over can cause in a person’s life.
Our client, who is a police officer, was parked on the shoulder of I-75 S in Henry County, conducting a traffic stop. The officer was standing on the shoulder of the highway in front of the vehicle he had pulled over. A tractor-trailer driving on the highway hit the civilian vehicle, which hit our client and threw him down an embankment.
As you might imagine, the officer suffered extensive injuries as a result of the truck crash. Though we are honored our client chose our personal injury lawyers to represent him on his case (successfully recovering $780,000 for him), this is a prime example of a crash that could have been avoided had the liable party been a full lane away or, as the law states, slowed down and prepared to stop when he saw our client’s police car lights flashing.
You can read more about this case in our Case Results, or hear the officer tell his story in his own words here:
Moving Over Saves Lives
Moving over one lane when you see emergency lights flashing on the highway may seem like a small, simple gesture. Yet, it can have profound effects on preventing needless car accident injuries and deaths each year.
The next time you see a tow truck, DOT, police, or emergency response vehicle on the shoulder of the highway, remember the law and move over.
Contact Our Accident Attorneys if You Have Been Injured in Georgia
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident as a result of another driver’s negligence, contact The Champion Firm today for a free case consultation. Our contingency fee structure means you only pay for our services if and when we win your case.