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PENNSYLVANIA’S NEW “MOVE OVER” LAW

PENNSYLVANIA’S NEW “MOVE OVER” LAWEvery day in the United States, there are – on average – over 12,000 “roadway incident responses”. Each incident can expose responders to the potential risk of being struck by drivers who are not paying attention to their surroundings.

Surprisingly, there’s only a small amount of comprehensive nationwide data on “struck-by” incidents. However, some alarming facts can be gleaned from existing studies.

  • Among causes of law enforcement deaths over a 10-year period, “struck-by vehicle” ranked 4th highest category out of 20 categories.
  • Forty-five percent of EMS workers deaths resulted from highway incidents, mostly due to vehicle collisions, with an additional 12% involving personnel being struck by vehicles.
  • Up to one quarter of annual line-of-duty firefighter fatalities are attributable to motor vehicle accidents, including struck-by incidents.
  • Towing companies lose about 40 to 50 operators annually. In some instances, 75% of the fatalities involved struck-by incidents.

Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law

Pennsylvania addressed the need to provide a wider margin of safety for roadway responders with its Steer Clear law which went into effect in September 2006. The law requires motorists to move to a lane that is not adjacent to the scene of an emergency response, police stop or a tow truck picking up an abandoned vehicle. If drivers cannot move over because of traffic or other conditions, they must reduce their speed. (The law, however, doesn’t specify what the speed should be reduced to.)

New “Move Over” Law

During the most recent two-year period, there were 7,075 citations issued under the Steer Clear law. In that same time period 3,204 warnings were also issued. The high volume of violations spoke to the need for more specific language and stronger penalties. Hence “Steer Clear” was rebranded as “Move Over”, revised and signed into law on October 29, 2020. It goes into effect on April 27, 2021.

The duty of a driver under the new law is set forth in Section 3327 of Title 75:

(a) [General rule] Emergency response areas. — When approaching or passing an emergency response area, a person, unless otherwise directed by an emergency service responder, shall:

(1) pass in a lane not adjacent to that of the emergency response area, if possible; or

(2) if passing in a nonadjacent lane is impossible, illegal or unsafe, pass the emergency response area at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing the emergency response area.

(a.1) Disabled vehicles. — When approaching or passing a disabled vehicle, a person shall:

(1) if it is possible to do so, pass in a lane not adjacent to that of the disabled vehicle; or

(2) if it is impossible, illegal or unsafe to comply with paragraph (1), pass the disabled vehicle at a rate of speed that is no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing the disabled vehicle.

An "emergency response area” is defined as either:

  • The area in which emergency service responders render emergency assistance to individuals on or near a roadway or a police officer is conducting a traffic stop or systematic check of vehicles or controlling or directing traffic as long as the emergency vehicle is making use of visual signals; or
  • The area in which contractors or employees of a public utility, a municipally owned utility or an electric cooperative provide disaster emergency-related services.

A "disabled vehicle" is defined as “a vehicle that is in a traffic lane or on the side of a traffic lane and is clearly marked with at least two specified markings.”

Penalties

The new Move Over law, imposes higher fines: $500 for first-time offenders, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 and a 90-day license suspension for a third or subsequent offense. It also doubles fines for several traffic violations when committed in an emergency response area when first responders are present. The new law also provides for a fine of up $10,000 for causing death.

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn Attorney Michael Lombardo points out that “the violation of a provision of Pennsylvania’s motor vehicle code may constitute prima facie evidence of negligence”. If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of another driver’s negligence, call (800) 760-1529 to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

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