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Move Over, Slow Down Designed to Avoid Crashes, Help Emergency Crews

Thursday, March 09, 2017By Richard Alexander

California’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law plays an important part in protecting you. This law mandates that drivers take certain actions when they approach emergency vehicles on a freeway.

Emergency personnel are deployed to the scene of many different types of emergencies such as these:

  • automobile accidents;
  • vehicle breakdowns;
  • chemical spills; and
  • fires

In addition, authorized emergency vehicles are often involved in traffic stops and traffic control.

Many people are aware that this law exists but may not be aware of exactly when it applies or what it requires them to do.

First, this law applies only on freeways. Second, the law only applies when an emergency vehicle is stationary, or stopped. Third, the law does not kick in unless the emergency vehicle is displaying the required emergency lights. Fourth, the emergency vehicle must be on the freeway (not adjacent to it or separated from it by a physical barrier, such as a concrete guardrail). If any one of these requirements is not met, this particular law does not apply.

In addition to these requirements, the law applies to a broader range of vehicles than some people might realize:

  • authorized emergency vehicles (such as police, fire, and ambulances);
  • tow trucks; and
  • Caltrans vehicles.

When the law applies, a driver must first try to “move over.” The law defines this as “approach[ing] with due caution,” then moving over into a lane that is not immediately next to the emergency vehicle. Drivers are required to do this as long as they can safely do so under current traffic conditions.

If it is not safe to “move over,” drivers must slow down “to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.”

Of course, if a peace officer is on the scene directing traffic, drivers must obey his or her directions, and this law does not apply.

It’s important to follow the “Move Over, Slow Down” law, which helps protect not only safety personnel but also travelers passing through the area.

Unfortunately, traffic deaths and injuries happen all too often, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply near traffic emergencies and to follow those laws closely. Following the laws and paying close attention near an emergency can also help you avoid a crash yourself.

If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury in a crash, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.

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