A new state law went into effect at the start of the new year with the goal of protecting drivers pulled over on the side of the road. The new law requires drivers to move over when passing a vehicle that has pulled over on the side of the road and is flashing warning lights or exhibiting other signs of distress. This expands on an existing law that had been in place for emergency and roadside assistance vehicles, such as police cruisers and tow trucks.
Like the preexisting “move over law” for emergency vehicles, drivers will be required to switch lanes to provide space to any vehicle that is pulled over. If a driver is unable to switch lanes, such as on single-lane roads, then he or she will need to slow down to 5 mph below the posted speed limit.
Drivers who fail to comply with the new rule can be ticketed and fined up to $260. When the Oregon Department of Transportation introduced the new legislation, they cited the statistical difference between crashes involving pulled-over vehicles and the presence of an emergency vehicle. Between 2011 and 2015, 167 serious crashes and 8 deaths occurred when a moving vehicle struck a stationary one on the side of the road. This compares to only 6 serious crashes and 0 fatalities involving an emergency or roadside assistance vehicle on the side of the road.
These laws are the norm nationwide, though specifics vary
All 50 states have a similar law for emergency vehicles, though the specific requirements for drivers vary. Florida, for example, requires that drivers slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. Puerto Rico and Washington D.C do not have any move over laws, however.
There’s a good reason these laws exist: They prevent serious accidents. A pulled-over vehicle often means one of its occupants is standing outside the vehicle and could be seriously injured by a vehicle traveling at highway speeds. The worst-case scenario is when one or more motorists who have already been involved in a collision are then involved in a second collision while pulled over and inspecting their vehicles and exchanging insurance information.
These new protections for drivers on the side of the road will hopefully reduce accident rates to the levels that emergency vehicles experience, which is nearly zero. However, if you or someone you know is injured in a roadside accident, you have rights that need to be protected. Speak to an experienced Portland auto accident attorney who can further discuss your options.
In the event that you have been struck by another vehicle while pulled over, you may be eligible for compensation. The attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis can help. Contact us online or call today.