Maryland’s “Move Over” law, which was originally passed in 2010 and originally only applied to emergency vehicles, expanded in 2019 to include tow trucks as well. October 1, 2021 marked the three-year anniversary of the expanded law going into effect.

Vehicles with flashing lights, whether they’re red, white, blue, or amber, are there to help those in need. Giving way to these vehicles while they’re on the road is essential to keep these drivers safe and help them get to their destination as quickly as possible. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what actions to take depending on where the emergency vehicle or tow truck is located. This guide will help you understand what to do the next time you see these types of automobiles on the road.

When One is Stopped Ahead
When you see flashing lights ahead, you should cautiously change lanes to the furthest lane away from the side in which the vehicle is stopped. In 2018, Maryland expanded their “Move Over” Law to not only emergency vehicles and tow trucks but service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks. This law requires that you change lanes to allow room for workers moving around these vehicles. This law not only prevents additional accidents, it also saves lives.

An article from the Maryland State Police states that “According to the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, more than 4,000 people were injured, and 53 people were killed in work zone crashes between 2014 and 2019. In 2019 alone, there were 694 crashes that resulted in injury and seven that resulted in fatalities in Maryland. These are tragedies and many were preventable.”

When One is Approaching Behind You
When you see an emergency vehicle behind you, you should pull over safely. Avoid slamming on your brakes and instead slow down carefully. Make sure that it is safe to change lanes and pull over onto the shoulder of the road. You don’t want to cause an accident. Be sure to look for pedestrians and cyclists before entering the shoulder of the road.
When reentering the roadway, always make sure that the lane is clear. You don’t want to reenter the road in front of another emergency vehicle or another car. Remember that you should also provide the emergency vehicle with 500 feet of space when following behind after they pass you.

When One is at an Intersection
When you’re approaching an intersection and see an emergency vehicle, you should always give the right of way to that car or truck. The amount of time it takes to get there is essential to either saving a life or stopping crime. If one of these emergency vehicles has their lights engaged and their siren blaring, they are on the way to help someone. They may not necessarily be obeying traffic laws, so even if you have the green light to continue down the street, you should still stop to allow them to proceed to their emergency.

When One is Weaving Across Lanes
When a police car is weaving across all lanes, they aren’t doing it for fun. This is usually a maneuver to slow down traffic on a freeway due to an accident ahead. This is a rare maneuver, but if you see it, the officer is trying to slow down traffic safely to avoid a pileup further down the road.

Now that you know how to drive around these emergency vehicles, you can relax a little knowing what you need to do to help these cars and trucks get to their destination safely. After all, if you were in an emergency, you would want these helpers to get to you as quickly and safely as possible too.

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