Saturday, July 01, 2006

Move it Over - NC "Move Over" Law

In January of 2002, North Carolina enacted their version of the "Move Over" Law. The law, General Statute #20-157, requires motorists who encounter a police officer or other emergency personnel on the side of the road to "move over" to an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so. Otherwise they are required to slow down in their current lane.

And starting today, July 1, 2006, this requirement will also be enforced for tow trucks and other non-law enforcement emergency vehicles.

This is to help prevent the numbers of injured and killed emergency response personnel and motorists at our state's roadsides, which are increasing every year.

The law is a good one, and as North Carolina joins other states in enacting such statutes, we should see a significant drop in the needless deaths across the state as motorists become more familiar with the law.

The transition

It is the transition into the habit that concerns me.

Any time you add a new law that affects how motorists drive, there is the possibility of the results being worse than the catastrophe they are designed to reduce, until the law is fully understood and properly practiced by the state's drivers.

The current consequence for a NC driver who fails to move to an adjacent lane if it is open or to slow down is up to $350 in fines and court costs. This can cause some motorists, particularly young drivers, to overreact and possibly to create an unsafe situation for surrounding drivers if they suddenly encounter a cop on the side of the road and are worried about breaking this law.

Cops pull over drivers every day, probably by the hundreds. That's part of their job, and it adds to the overall safety of the state's roadways.

Even the mere presence of a pulled over motorist is often enough to get others to slow down. And slow down they do. What worries me is the requirement to move over. In the ten minutes or so that a police officer has a car pulled over for some infraction, or whatever, hundreds, or even a thousand or so cars may pass alongside. It scares me to think about some of these already distracted motorists who may be fearful that the cop will jump in his cruiser, leave the ticketless motorist they had stopped, and chase them down because they hadn't moved over. So they lurch around to see if it is clear, then may make hasty decisions to cross lanes, perhaps jeopardizing their own safety, the safety of others, or ironically, the very safety of the stopped personnel and motorist!

What's needed

Please don't twist my words, and believe I am saying it's a bad law. Anyone tempted to comment that they know of officers or emergency personnel who have been killed because of failure to allow sufficient space has my support and sympathy. It's a great law and I highly encourage its adherence and enforcement.

But we need to understand the law. And we need to follow best judgment on determining when it is truly safe to move over versus when it would be better to slow down.

And we need to talk to our children - today's young drivers just out of Driver's Ed - to ensure they understand the law and are prepared to follow it properly.

North Carolina's "Move Over" Law is a step in the right direction and should serve to bring additional safety to our emergency personnel as has been found in other states who have similar laws. Understand the law, and its consequences, and practice safe and responsible compliance to ensure the law can properly serve its purpose.


At Sunday, January 27, 2008 8:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter has been driving for less than a month and just got a "move over" ticket. The NC State Trooper was 10 feet off the road.
Does this make any sence?

At Sunday, January 04, 2009 5:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it does make sence. She should have followed the law, and then no ticket would have been issued. I was hit this in Nov 2008 by a passing driver while I was attempting to get medical equipment to treat a person involved in an accident. I will be out of work for almost 10 months and need knee surgery. I could have been killed. We should all follow the move over law to prevent these incidents.

At Tuesday, July 28, 2009 5:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this law only makes matters worse. Its up to the individual that arrives at the scene to make things safer. There are things such as cones, flares and safety signs to encourage people to move over. I witness police officers pulling people over and leaving no room and prety much parking on the line of the road when there is plenty of room ahead to safely park the vehicles. Its up to the individual to use common sense when pulled over. Its takes two to make things safer. Police officers and emergency personnel are quick to blame someone else for their lack of safe practices. I for one think the only reason for this law is to generate the counties and states more revenue. Plain and simple!!! I got pulled over and the only two cars on the road pulled over were police cruisers and I might add no emergency lights on!!! They still pulled me over and issued a ticket...If they had the time to radar me, going the speed limit I might add, they werent in an emergency.

At Friday, January 15, 2010 10:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received a ticket on Thankgiving for Violating the Move over Law. I reduced my speed and moved over in my lane. I felt I was passing with caution. I am sure the two State patrol officers were leap frogging (taking turns pulling people / basiclly a setup)I am sure of this because I could hear the other officer on the radio talking to my officer while he had me pulled over. I had no idea that it was the Law that you had to change lanes; until I got a ticket and went home and looked it up online. The sign at the VA/NC line clearly states that it is the state law to reduce speed or move over for emergency vehicles. Reduce speed and move over is exactly what I did. If I felt like my actions were truely dangerous I would have by all means just paid my ticket and accepted it. But I don't feel like I did anything wrong and really did not know I was braking the law. I went to court Yesterday in hopes that I could explain the full circumstances and point out that the state signs are confusing and misleading. However Elizabeth Cith NC is in no way interested in hearing a word about the move over law. I was told basically that they never reduce this charge and pretty much never will and then they added in a lecture about the number of officers killed, I assured them I understood the reasoning for the law, but thouht I was following the law and would have changed lanes if I had known. They told me the law had been changed for at least two years so basically they do not care what the sign says at the State line. (How else were the residents informed about this law?) They did however say I could still go before the judge but he would never go against the DA and that I could pay my ticket or risk an additional $200.00 fine for failure to pay and when I asked if there was anyway not to get points against my licenses the DA insured me I would being getting quite a few points for this one. I think she took pleasure in this. I am disgusted at this process and can not believe that so many people walked out of court with reduced or dismissed charges for things we all know better than do..speeding, reckless driving, and I even heard officers in the court telling the mother of this little Teenager how to get out of her prostitution charge and another that they didnt need a lawyer for their particular criminal charge and explained what they should do or say. They joke freely with the habitual offenders that they know so well and treated the others in the courtroom with disrespect. One court officer refered to several people as partner and told them to go sit their buts down (they simpley were trying to find out what they were suppose to do) It was out right chaos. I am now out $400.00, will receive an unknown number of points on my DL which will result in increased insurance and if I understood correctly I am now criminal because I have been charged with a misdemeanor. Something needs to be done in NC.....I didnt get a memo to say oh by the way heres a new law . No, instead they found a good way to make a quick $400.00 that obivously you can't get out of regardless of the circumstance.

At Friday, January 15, 2010 10:25:00 PM, Blogger The Sarcasticynic said...

Your unfortunate circumstances further illustrate the failure of the system with this law. As you have stated, by carefully passing the vehicle in a safe manner, that should have been sufficient, but no.

At Thursday, February 04, 2010 3:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think an even bigger point should be made here that ultimately the officers are putting the general public at risk by pulling motorist over in unsafe areas. Yes, I agree that we should all slow down and attempt to move over, but as other posters have pointed out this law puts us in an unsafe position ourselves. What the law should say is that officers should require motorists to pull over at the next exit, parking lot or side street. This law just transfers risk not abates it.

At Thursday, February 04, 2010 6:02:00 PM, Blogger The Sarcasticynic said...

"This law just transfers risk not abates it."

Very well said.

At Sunday, January 23, 2011 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was pulled over last night. The officer was way off onto the grass and even with his car door wide open didn't even reach to the edge of the pavement let alone the flow of traffic or even the white line. When he pulled out behind me he followed me for a bit until he saw a little bobble when I looked in the rear view mirror. It wasn't until then that he pulled me over. I expect that he thought that I might have been drinking which of course I was not. Not smelling alcohol he had to write me for something so the failure to pull over (which I did in my lane because there was a van in the other and slowed) When both vehicles slow it's hard to move over without causing a potential accident. Regardless I believe he was using the pull over law to as probable cause to check for DUI. The thing that infuriated me the most is that a second officer pulled in behind him and while the three of us were sitting there by the road no less than a half a dozen vehicles pass in the near lane without slowing down. I have had 1 traffic ticket in 40 years. This makes 2. Like a previous poster I didn't know about the law and believed that it was a request to pull over vs a law to pull over. The officer suggested that I ask for relief because of my driving record. If he felt that strongly then why did he not just give me a warning? North Carolina has done a horrible job getting the word out about this law so people are finding out about this law by having to pay $350 plus court costs. Don't get me wrong, I was a fire fighter for 12 years, EMT for 10 years and a Police Officer for 5. Law are there for a purpose. I believe this is an unfair law which relies on Officer credibility. He was getting into his vehicle when I passed by. There was no way he could tell that I had slowed and as dark as it was he perceived that I had not moved over as far as possible in my lane. Will I fight it? No! Because I know that in the court the Officer is always right.

At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 2:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all the posters here regarding potentially putting self/family at risk while trying to adhere to the NC Move Over Law. I have a clean driving record with one speeding ticket lifetime (driving over 20 years and several hundred thousand miles). I am an out-of-state driver and was passing through NC when I was given the same ticket. As others stated, the troopers were playing leap frog as I passed two of them - had just gotten onto the highway and slowed to below 50 mph as drove carefully past in family wagon with wife, mother and two babies aboard (70mph speed limit and cars zipping by me in the left lane). Trooper pulled me over short time after I passed, and initially wasn't even sure he was pulling me over since I was driving very carefully and slowly. When I pulled over and saw him also pulled over, I even pulled my vehicle further onto the embankment on the side of the road to ensure the officer's safety. Little did I know that he was pulling me over for putting officer'slife at risk! He mentioned about me being an out-of-state driver and whether I was aware of the NC Move Over Law. Basically, I believe my non-NC license plate was used to target me and this is ultimately a revenue generator for the state. Don't get me wrong, I COMPLETELY agree with the law and value the safety of officers/emergency responders/other motorists, however the application of the law leaves much to be desired and in my opinion is not be applied as intended.

At Thursday, January 05, 2012 1:20:00 PM, Blogger The Sarcasticynic said...

Hello. I am the original poster. Please read my latest post about this subject: “Move Over” Law – Part II


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