Crashes, fatalities continue in Md. despite expanded ‘Move Over’ law

One year after Maryland expanded its “Move Over” law to prevent roadside crashes, State Highway Administrator Greg Slater isn’t satisfied.

“If you look at the numbers, unfortunately, not much has changed,” Slater told WTOP.

In addition, state highway workers are also at risk every day, including Tuesday morning, after a two-vehicle crash on the Outer Loop of the Beltway: “Our emergency personnel stopped to assist the vehicles in the crash — our operator got out of the car to assist, and was hit by another car,” Slater said.

While the number of crashes in which troopers and state highway workers have been struck has remained steady, there has been a spike in the number of citizens hit on the side of the road.

“Over the last three years, we’ve had 28 troopers hit on the side of the road, and in the past five years we’ve had 50 people killed on the side of the road, after just getting out of the car to change a tire, or with a disabled vehicle,” Slater said.

Last year, Maryland’s law expanded to cover service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks, to emergency, law enforcement, tow trucks and transportation vehicles, with red, amber, or yellow lights flashing.

“Everyone is at risk when you’re on the side of the road,” Slater said. “It’s not a comfortable place to be.”

If a driver is unable to move over a lane when approaching these vehicles, the law requires them to “slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.”

Violating the law is a misdemeanor carrying a $110 fine and one point on a license. If the violation causes a crash, the fine is $150, with three points. If the violation results in a death or serious injury the fine is $750, with three points.

Maryland State Police have pulled over more than 17,000 motorists in the past year, and issued almost 4,000 citations for failing to move over.

“We really need people to understand the law,” Slater said. “Too many people are in danger out there, just trying to do their job.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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