Most of us know that when a police car, fire truck, or ambulance is traveling down the road with sirens blaring, the law requires us to slow down, yield the right of way, and move over to the shoulder of the road if possible. Upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle that is making use of its siren, all other drivers must:
Yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
However, fewer people understand that they are also required to leave plenty of room when passing by police or emergency vehicles that are parked on the side of the road. This duty is defined by Georgia’s “Move Over” law, which is found in Title 40 Chapter 6 Section 16 of the Official Code of Georgia. A recent report by Atlanta news station CBS 46 found that many drivers were completely unaware that this law even existed. Below is the essential information about Georgia’s Move Over law that every Georgia driver should know.
WHAT THE MOVE OVER LAW SAYS
Georgia’s Move Over law states that when a driver approaches a stationary police, emergency, accident recovery, or Department of Transportation vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, the driver shall approach “with due caution” and unless otherwise directed by a peace officer:
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) If a lane change would be impossible, illegal, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
Therefore, the first course of action should always be to change lanes. If this can be accomplished safely, a driver need not necessarily slow down as long as they are otherwise driving safely. If changing lanes isn’t possible or would be illegal or unsafe, a driver must slow down to below the posted speed limit.
CONSEQUENCES FOR VIOLATING THE MOVE OVER LAW
The Move Over law is intended to keep roadside emergency crew and law enforcement personnel safe from passing motorists. Accidents, especially those that cause fatalities, are the most serious consequences. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), before the law was passed in 2003, “Georgia road crews, traffic enforcement officers, and other first responders endured needless years of roadside deaths and injuries due to careless errors made by distracted drivers as they sped by police making traffic stops and emergency crews working roadside jobsites.” Although the law has made things much safer, the GOHS has stated that violations are “still far too common.”
The Move Over law authorizes a penalty of up to $500 for violators. However, if an accident occurs, the legal consequences of violating the Move Over law can be much more serious. Additional charges, such as reckless driving, are common in these types of cases, and of course charges could be much more serious if a police officer or emergency crew member is struck. Moreover, in the event that there is a civil lawsuit for damages, a driver violating the law may be presumed negligent. This is referred to as negligence per se, and when this doctrine applies it is much easier for a plaintiff to win a claim against a defendant.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT WILLIAMS | ELLEBY, TODAY
Staying safe should always be the number one priority when getting behind the wheel. To this end, all Georgia drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, which includes adhering to Georgia’s rules of the road. Everyone has a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, but many people make unsafe mistakes simply because they don’t know what their duty is in a given situation. This is why knowing the law is essential to driver safety. When accidents do occur, it is also imperative for all parties involved to be aware of their legal rights and options.
The Kennesaw personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, have deep knowledge of Georgia traffic accident laws. They provide thorough, accessible, and effective service to each of their clients, with the goal of maximizing compensation in each case. Williams Elleby, offers free case evaluations and accepts cases on a contingency-fee basis. If you would like more information, or if you have been in an accident and would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, today by calling 833-LEGALGA.