In the wake of a Lower Merion tragedy, Pennsylvania legislators made changes to our Move Over Law. These were effective April 27, 2021.
The Move Over Law was first enacted in 2010. It stated drivers must move into a further lane when passing an emergency response situation. If they are unable to move over, drivers must slow to at least 20 mph below the speed limit. Additionally, fines are doubled for all traffic offenses committed in an emergency response area.
Penalty for Failing to Merge, Effective April 2021
The 2021 changes include new penalties for failing to comply with the Move Over Law. Perpetrators can expect:
- 2 points on their license
- Fine of $500 for first offenders
- Fine of $1,000 for second offenders
- Fine of $3,000 for each subsequent offense
- 90-day license suspension for third and subsequent offenses
Disabled vehicles are exempt from the Move Over Law. To honor the disabled vehicle exemption, drivers must use at least two of these:
- Vehicular hazard signal lamps
- Caution signs or other control devices
- Road flares
When Failure to Merge Results in Death or Injury
If a driver’s failure to merge results in death or injury to a person at the emergency scene, they will lose their license for 6 months and be fined $10,000. This applies to anyone who might be killed or injured at the scene: emergency responders, accident victims, bystanders, etc.
The changes to the Move Over Law were in response to a tragic accident that occurred on the Schuylkill Expressway. When a drunk driver did not move into the left lane as she approached an emergency response scene, she hit and killed Belmont Hills Firefighter Thomas Royds. She also injured two other firefights and a state trooper. The driver is facing charges for 12 offenses.
Let’s Do Our Part to Keep First Responders Safe
During the accident on the Schuylkill, traffic was moving slowly. Nevertheless, a tragedy occurred. Because emergency personnel must exit their vehicles when responding to road accidents, they have a high risk of injury.
It is the duty of every driver to protect the men and women who come to our aid when we need them most. By following PA’s Move Over Law, not only do you avoid hefty fines and license suspensions, you keep our communities safe.
How to Tell You’re Approaching an Emergency Response Area
Emergency response areas will be marked with one or more of the following:
- Lighted flares
- Flashing lights
- Other traffic control devices
Remember, move to a further lane if possible. If you can’t do that, slow down to 20 mph below the limit.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Road Accident
If no injury occurs and vehicle damages are minor
- Move vehicles away from traffic
- Share your driver and vehicle information, insurance information, and insurance phone numbers with all involved drivers
- Get driver and vehicle information, insurance information, and insurance phone numbers from all involved parties
- Record the damages you observe and an account of the accident
- You may choose to call the police
For accidents involving more severe injury and damage
- Call 911
- The police will collect your license, registration, and insurance information
- Police will record statements from all involved parties and witnesses
- Call a towing company, or police will call one for you
If your vehicle is disabled
- Take note of your specific location, including the cross street or mile marker
- Call 911
- Turn on your hazard lights and/or tie a flag, creating a signal that you need help
- Have information of a towing company at the ready
Responsible drivers always have the name and number of a towing company with them in their vehicle.