DOT: “Move over” law ignored, posing serious safety risk

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation says there’s a troubling trend across the state with the “move over” law is being ignored by drivers.

The law applies when a law enforcement, state, or first-responder vehicle is parked responding to a situation. If the driver of a vehicle is in the same lane as this vehicle, the law says to safely slow down and change lanes as to keep the workers safe from fast-moving traffic.

“Our safety-patrol drivers, when they stop to assist motorists, are often within mere inches of traffic every day on our interstates,” said Chad Franklin, the Regional Intelligent Transportation System Engineer in Asheville. “That’s basically a loaded missile coming right at them.”

The DOT says since Jan. 1, 2022, twenty-six of their vehicles have been struck where it could have been safely avoided. An average of one per month from then until today.

“That is far too many,” Franklin said. “We have been lucky out here when it comes to injuries. But it shouldn’t take somebody getting seriously injured or killed for drivers to realize the seriousness of the Move Over Law.”

Just recently, a driver didn’t slow down on I-40 with keys belonging to the DOT employee being swiped off his hip by the passing truck.

Since 2020, first responders in North Carolina have been hit on average 28 times annually. Last October, a Grifton police officer was seriously injured on Highway 11 when a driver didn’t move over for him during a traffic stop.

Not moving over can result in a $250 fine, and a driver charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony.