Texas Move Over Laws

Texas Car Accident Attorney

You’re driving to your next destination and hear the sirens of an ambulance that is quickly approaching. Do you know what to do next? According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, many Texans aren’t sure what action to take when an emergency vehicle emerges with its sirens and lights on. One recent incident serves as a reminder – after a Texas driver failed to adhere to move over laws when an ambulance was driving nearby, a fatal car accident resulted.

Nearly everyone has heard the impressive sound of sirens on fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. Despite this, many people are unsure exactly how to share the roads with these vehicles. Move Over Laws dictate what actions motorists are required to take when emergency vehicles are on the roads. Knowing and abiding by these laws is incredibly important because they help prevent collisions between first responders and passing motorists.

Texas Move Over Laws

In 2003, Texas passed its own Move Over/Slow Down law that required motorists to slow down when police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation vehicles, and tow trucks have their emergency lights activated. It’s important to point out that Move Over Laws also apply to tow trucks. Many motorists know to move over for police cars and ambulances, but fail to treat tow trucks the same.

Specifically, Texas Move Over Laws require motorists to vacate the lane closest to the applicable stopped vehicle if they can do so safely and legally. If a motor vehicle cannot move over, the driver must slow down to 20 miles per hour below the maximum posted speed limit. Violating these laws can lead to motorists being fined up to $200. If failure to abide by these laws results in property damage, the fine increases up to $500. If violators cause bodily injury, they can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in possible jail time and a fine of $2,000.

Specifically, in order to ensure the safety of Texas drivers as well as emergency responders and highway patrol workers, Texas law states the following:

  • Drivers must vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle if the road has multiple lanes heading in the same direction.
  • Drivers should only move over if they can do so safely and legally; otherwise, they should slow down.
  • If drivers cannot change lanes, they must slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.
  • If the speed limit is below 25 mph, the driver must slow down to 5 mph.

Despite the Texas “Move Over” Law being in effect for 16 years, many drivers still violate the law or claim to be unaware of the rules. In 2017, more than 10,650 warnings and citations were issued to Texas motorists violating the move over/slow down obligation.

If violated, there are criminal consequences. Fines ranging from $200 to $500 (if there is property damage) can be issued. If injuries ensued, the party responsible can be charged with a class B misdemeanor, which can result in a $2,000 fine or even jail time. But, importantly, injured parties can also maintain a civil lawsuit for damages, regardless of whether or not criminal charges are filed.

Keeping First Responders Safe

First responders shouldn’t have to worry about being struck by passing motorists when they are assisting with or responding to emergencies and accidents. Drivers have no right to recklessly endanger the lives of these individuals. When drivers violate Move Over Laws and cause accidents, they should be held accountable.

Texas Car Accidents

There is no excuse for negligent or reckless driving. Texas Move Over Laws are clear and should always be followed. If you or a loved one has been injured due to an irresponsible driver that did not adhere to Texas laws, we can help. Contact the car accident attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today for a free case evaluation.

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