Florida has recently decided to expand its existing Move Over driving law to include broken-down vehicles, making it the 17th state in the US to do so. The change is designed to protect law enforcement officers and first responders on the roadside. The update to the law was passed in April of 2023 and signed by Governor DeSantis in June. It will go into effect in July but won’t actually impact drivers until January of 2024.
Here’s what Florida drivers need to know about the expanded law and how it will impact them.
What Is the Move Over Law?
The Move Over law requires drivers to either move over one lane when it’s safe to do so for the following even when warning signs or channelizing devices are not present:
- Stopped law enforcement vehicles
- Stopped emergency vehicles
- Stopped sanitation vehicles
- Stopped utility services vehicles
- Stopped tow trucks
- Stopped wreckers
- Maintenance vehicles displaying warning lights
- Construction vehicles displaying warning lights
What Should You Do if You Can’t Move Over?
There are some circumstances in which you can’t move over. The road you’re on could have only one lane going in your direction, for example. Or traffic could prevent you from safely moving over. In these situations, the law requires you to instead slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, then you should slow down to 5 mph.
Why Was the Move Over Law Passed?
The Move Over law was passed originally to protect law enforcement officers and emergency responders as well as construction, maintenance, and other workers from getting hit by passing cars. Requiring drivers to either move over a lane or slow down significantly reduces the risk of accidents that could harm workers or damage their vehicles.
What Happens if You Don’t Follow the Law?
If you don’t move over or slow down, you could face, at minimum, a fine, fees, and points on your license. If you are in an accident that injures or kills someone, then you would also face legal consequences, which could include increased fines or even jail time.
What Is the 2023 Update to the Move Over Law?
In 2023, an update to the Move Over law was passed that expanded it to include any broken-down vehicle, even if no one is present. This expansion was part of a wider transportation bill that was recently signed by Governor DeSantis.
What Is HB 425?
HB 425 is a transportation bill that was recently passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor DeSantis. The bill expands the Move Over law to include broken-down vehicles as well as revising or providing the requirements for a variety of things ranging from airport zoning regulations and vehicle grading standards to liability insurance and approval for some proposed turnpike projects.
The update to the Move Over law is what will directly impact Florida drivers because it will require them to take action to avoid a fine or other consequences.
Why Was the Move Over Law Expanded?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has one of the highest rates of fatalities in roadside accidents in the country. Most of them involved workers struck by passenger vehicles who hadn’t slowed down or moved over as per the requirements of the law. Tampa Bay’s WUSF interviewed a state trooper who had been struck by a vehicle failing to comply with the Move Over law and who is as a result now stuck with lifelong injuries. The AAA Auto Club also confirmed the risk, saying that many people don’t follow the law and as a result, more deaths are occurring.
The new update to the Move Over law is intended to prevent these fatalities from occurring.
What Are the New Requirements for Drivers in the Move Over Law Update?
Once the new Move Over law updates come into effect, drivers will be required to either move over to an adjacent lane or slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit (or 5 mph if the speed limit is 20 mph or less) when a broken-down vehicle with its hazard lights on, even if no workers or law enforcement officers are present. Drivers of the stopped vehicles are required to turn on their hazard lights to indicate that other drivers should move over.
When Does the Expanded Move Over Law Take Effect?
HB 425 takes effect starting in July 2023, but the Move Over portion won’t be enforced until January of 2024. This means that drivers will have the rest of 2023 to start changing their driving behavior to accommodate the changes. After the beginning of the new year, however, drivers could face fines of up to $158 for failing to change lanes or to slow down for a stopped vehicle with its hazard lights on.
What Should You Do if You’re in a Car Accident?
If you’re involved in a car accident, you may want to consider speaking to a lawyer. A car accident attorney in Tampa and beyond can help to ensure that you receive an appropriate amount from your insurance company to cover medical bills, lost wages, and more as you get back on your feet following the accident.