A recent accident in St. Johns County has prompted the Florida Highway Patrol to remind motorists of the importance of our state's Move Over Law. The accident, as reported on Sept. 24 by News 4 Jax occurred on Interstate 95. A state trooper inside his car was injured, and the driver who reportedly caused the crash was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. It occurred when, reportedly unaware of the slowdown caused by an earlier accident, the woman rear-ended another car and then an FHP cruiser at the scene the accident.
The Move Over Law was designed to protect motorists and public safety professionals by requiring motorists to slow down and/or move over when they see a law enforcement or emergency vehicle along the road. This July, it was broadened to include utility service and sanitation vehicles.
Specifically, the law requires drivers on a two-lane road to slow to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit as they approach the stopped vehicle unless directed to do otherwise. If the posted limit is 20 mph or less, drivers must slow to five mph.
On a road with multiple lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, drivers are required to move out of the lane closest to the stopped vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. If drivers are not able to safely change lanes, they must slow to 20 mph below the speed limit.
Drivers who are caught violating the law will be ticketed. They may also be fined and get points on their driver's license. However, as Florida safety officials point out, the most significant ramification that could come from breaking the law is injury or worse to yourself and/or others.
As one person who was involved in the Sept. 24 accident noted in the News 4 Jax report, it could have been even worse. He said that moments before the auto accident, troopers had been outside of their cars.
Safety officials and law enforcement officers also remind drivers of the importance of keeping your eyes on what is happening ahead as well as around you at all times. Sadly, too many drivers are distracted by any number of things and are not able to act in time to avoid an accident. In addition to facing criminal charges and other penalties, they may also be held civilly liable for damages and injuries they cause to others.
Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "Move Over, It's the Law" Sep. 28, 2014