What Are Tennessee’s Move-Over Laws?

Tennessee drivers share the roads with other motorists, bicycles, commercial vehicles, and – perhaps most importantly – with emergency vehicles. Unfortunately, not all drivers realize that laws require them to move over and slow down when emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, EMT workers, police officers, and firefighters, are stopped along the side of the road. These laws are intended for the safety and protection of the emergency workers or law enforcement officers that are pulled over. Here, our injury attorneys in Nashville discuss what Tennessee’s move-over laws are.

Move Over Laws

Most states have established move over laws. In Tennessee, T.C.A 55-8-132 states that a vehicle in an adjacent lane of traffic must move over or slow down when approaching a law enforcement or emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Specifically, all drivers are required to pull into the far lane, unless such a move is not possible. In those cases, drivers are still required to slow down. The law also requires that when an emergency vehicle is flashing its lights while moving in traffic, vehicles in adjacent lanes of traffic must slow down and change lanes if possible. When faced with either of these situations, it is imperative and necessary to comply with the law.

Why Were They Created?

The Move Over Laws were established because first responders should not have to fear their lives while saving others. In Tennessee alone, dozens of police officers and emergency personnel have been injured or lost their lives due to vehicles speeding past them while stopped, or by ignoring the traffic signs. The Move Over Laws create a safety zone for first responders and are in place to inform and require motorists begin moving over and slowing down. This applies any time emergency vehicles are stopped on a busy highway or driving on the road with flashing lights.

Violating Move Over Laws

Tennessee was the 30th State to enact the Move Over Laws, as the whole nation moves to initiate similar protective laws. Motorists should be fully aware of these laws. However, even if they are not, the penalties are still costly. In Tennessee, the penalty for violating a Move Over Law could be up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Although not every incident ends with injury, thousands of Move Over violations are committed every year. Once again, this raises a concern for police officers and emergency responders who are only trying to help other motorists. Simply being careless or neglectful by failing to move over or slow down risks the lives of those who help us the most.

Saving lives is as simple as moving over and paying attention. For any driver it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Although the Move Over Laws specifically apply to first responders, these should not be the only individuals who are protected. Anytime you witness a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road, it is in best practice to slow down and move over. This protects both other motorists from serious injuries, as well as yourself from steep penalties.