‘Lives could be saved’: Virginia’s expanded Move Over law takes effect Saturday

Alexis Wells and Latane Flanagan always used to call their sister Angela Hurley when they needed advice.

“She knew what was right,” Flanagan said. “You call her and you’re like, ‘Hey, this is what I was thinking, what do you think?’ And she was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s right,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, no, you are absolutely out of your mind.'”

Hurley, 49, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, was killed on July 19, 2022, when she was waiting for roadside assistance after her car broke down on the side of Interstate 95 in Hanover County outside Richmond. An SUV swerved into the shoulder and hit her vehicle.

Her sisters have been advocating for safer traffic laws since her death, in the hopes that other people’s loved ones will make it home safely. Now, a major law they supported is going into effect, as Virginia drivers prepare to travel for the holiday weekend.

The state’s updated Move Over law will kick in July 1. It requires drivers to move over or slow down when they see a disabled car with its hazard lights flashing on the side of the road — protocol that is already required when a first responder or construction vehicle does the same.

“It’s exponential how many lives could be saved by just moving over, slowing down and it can help loved ones near and far,” Flanagan said.

The law was signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in March with bipartisan support across the state legislature.

“Nobody’s a Republican or Democrat when you’re stranded at the side of the road and at risk with cars going by at 70 miles an hour. We’re all vulnerable,” said state Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax County, who introduced the legislation in the General Assembly along with Del. Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater.

According to Morgan Dean, a spokesperson for AAA, 28 people were killed in or around a disabled vehicle in Virginia between 2016 and 2020. He said these deaths are preventable.

“This is the encouragement to other drivers out there to help make those people safe,” Dean said.

He encouraged all drivers to move forward with this mindset: “It’s my job to protect everybody. That may not be my sister, that my not be my mother, but I want to protect them, too.”

Dean added, “The way to do that is to be a good driver and a good model for other drivers.”

Hurley’s sisters echoed that sentiment, with Wells adding that it only takes “a millisecond to just slow down” and prevent losses like the one her family experienced.

“Angela was a loving, kind mother, sister, friend, aunt and she didn’t deserve to die stranded on the side of the road,” Wells said.

Now that the law is taking effect, according to Wells, she and Flanagan aim to raise awareness of it because “nothing can be effective unless it’s known.”

Wells added, “Now it is over into the drivers’ hands as to make that selection, make the right decision.”

WTOP’s Cheyenne Corin contributed to the reporting of this story.

Kate Corliss

Kate Corliss is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. She is a senior studying journalism at American University and serves as the Campus Life Editor for the student newspaper, The Eagle. Before joining WTOP, she covered local Connecticut news at the Rivereast News Bulletin and reported on Congress

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