Letter to the Editor – Maryland’s Move Over Law

March 18, 2019

Every day more than 16,000 Maryland law enforcement officers say goodbye to their families and head out to protect and serve their communities. As a police officer, both you and your family know the risks of the job when you’re sworn in to wear the badge – impaired drivers, weapons, domestic incidents gone wrong, vehicular crashes – there are many things on your daily shift that could keep you from going home to your family.

But one such danger is especially troubling because it doesn’t come from weapons or criminals – it’s our own citizens that are accidentally injuring or killing our officers in roadside incidents. In fact, the fourth highest cause of police officer death since 2008 is ‘Struck by Vehicle.’ In fact, from 2008-2017, 126 officers have lost their lives after being struck by a vehicle – many of these were simple violations of the ‘Move Over’ law, set in place to protect police officers and roadside workers every day.

Maryland’s Move Over Law, first passed in 2011 and later expanded in 2014 and 2018, requires drivers to move over to a different lane if they see a police car, ambulance, tow truck, or other service vehicle on the shoulder of the road with their lights flashing. If they cannot safely move over, they must slow down to a reasonable speed. Failure to do so results in a $110 fine and one point against the driver’s license; the fine escalates to $750 if the violation results in death or serious injury.

Unfortunately, most citizens don’t realize the law exists, don’t understand it or simply choose not to follow it. This has resulted in the deaths of at least three Maryland State Highway Administration employees and injuries to multiple police officers in recent years. Field testing of new technology that can track and provide required evidence of Move Over violations in Anne Arundel County, MD demonstrated the epidemic of these violations – a staggering 1.2 violations every minute of a traffic stop during the test period. Roadside workers’ lives are clearly at risk.

When an officer conducts a traffic stop or assists a motorist in distress, that officer can’t be expected to continuously monitor approaching traffic much less take enforcement action on ‘Move Over’ violations. It’s an impossible task. This is why we need to take a more aggressive approach to educating drivers about ‘Move Over’ laws. There are technologies available on the market – innovative video cameras, RADAR and license plate reader systems – that affix to a patrol vehicle and can capture violation information in real-time. Once these violators receive their first citation in the mail, you can be sure they’ll think twice about violating – and endangering an officer – again.

Sadly, public information and education campaigns along with occasional, although well intended, enforcement teams have not had the desired effect. There must be a certain consequence to violations to create any significant deterrence. As a community, we need to strongly encourage our public officials to enact legislation that would allow for these technologies to be used, like House Bill 1368, which was heard by the Maryland House of Delegates. We owe it to our police officers who serve and protect us every day. Now it’s time we protect them.

Lieutenant Bill Tower
Retired Barrack Commander
Maryland State Police

 

22 Responses to Letter to the Editor – Maryland’s Move Over Law

  1. Kelly in LP on March 18, 2019 at 9:34 am

    This is so important for all to know. Would love to see a statewide ad campaign (again) to inform all.

  2. Rob on March 18, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Let’s focus on body cams for all officers (and making the footage public after a use of force incident) before we spend money on license plate readers for every vehicle.

    • Whiggy on March 18, 2019 at 8:28 pm

      Do you wear a camera at work scrutinizing your every comment and move?

  3. Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 11:11 am

    OK, what is a ” reasonable speed”?If you cannot safely move over,due to other vehicles occupying the lane, yet slow down to about 30 or 40 in a 55, an over zealous or just plain di***ea cop, they can still write you up. I experienced this at the bridge, but we all know how those bored douchers can be. I even slowed down to 40.

    • Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      I meant di***ead*, obviously. For you loser grammar nazis that troll just praying for a mistake.

  4. Rob Stark on March 18, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Now make it known that police text and drive

  5. AliceW on March 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Writing the laws with ambiguous wording does not cut it. Example ” If they cannot safely move over, they must slow down to a reasonable speed.” Do not put the driver in a position of making a decision. It is clear from observations that 80% are not good at it. Put a speed of 10 miles an hour or less if you can’t move over. Life and death safety can not be over done. The whole MVA hand book needs to be rewritten to take out the ambiguous rules. Just look at the Yield signs most people have no idea on how to address them. Most drive down to the end of the acceleration lane and stop braking up everyone else. Others force their way in if they even look.No one around here has ever read page 61 of the MVA book as you see people at every intersection changing lanes in the turns. A spacial awareness test needs to be added to the drivers test to weed out the people that are clueless where their car is on the road. You can see the problem with running wheels on the Fog or Yellow lines at 3 cents a foot to repaint!

  6. Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    How about they start a campaign of issueing Repair Orders with Inspection for the drivers running around with burnt out brake/tail lights.

    • Rob Stark on March 18, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Or tinted headlights/tailights

      • Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

        Why? Who cares. Do they bother you that much? Not like theyre blinding you, and unless you’re that blind and in that case you shouldn’t be driving anyway.

        • Rob Stark on March 19, 2019 at 7:51 pm

          Someone is overly sensitive…must be that time of the month

      • Kelly in LP on March 18, 2019 at 3:41 pm

        I concur!

        • Rob Stark on March 18, 2019 at 7:24 pm

          I guess those that do that to their cars win the Darwin award

    • Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      They already do, when they see them.

  7. Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Do some research!! This guy works for the company that is trying to steel the cops this equipment!! Shame on you Mr. Tower!! He is trying to fill his pockets with cash while making it seem he is trying to help save cops. He should have disclosed his current employer – Brekford??

  8. Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    “To serve and protect” what a joke

  9. Anonymous on March 18, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    What? You mean making something a law doesn’t solve the problem? So we need to make more laws to make up for the originally written law which can’t be effectively enforced?

  10. Alexandria O. Cortez on March 19, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Yes I concur…..

    The government needs to firmly control every facet of everyone’s life. Control everything thing paid for, everything specified, everything dictated.

    People are just too stupid or evil to know how to live, what to do, and how to spend their own money.

    The government must continue to raise taxes so high that only the very rich have any extra money – or feedom to live under their own power. The other 95% should be living on welfare – and not have to work or contribute to society – just do what they are told.

    AOC has it right – embrace socialism unto destruction.

    So YES – more laws, more tickets for everything you other “more intelligent” drivers hate, don’t have yourselves, or are just plain envious of.

    THERE! It is ALL quite “democratic” now, isn’t it?

    Congratulations Marylanders!

  11. research on March 19, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Maybe they should walk to the passenger side of the car AWAY from traffic or allow drivers to move to a safer area to pull over. What is a “reasonable” speed? SMH

  12. 6 pack on March 19, 2019 at 9:51 am

    How can anyone “not know about the law? There are signs EVERYWHERE that tell us exactly that.

  13. Anonymous on March 22, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Please keep in mind that we should not even have traffic citations issued. Traffic citations are she did it because I say she did it, which leads directly to she did it because shes been arrested. Really, isn’t everything a traffic citation is issued for: unverifiable? And another thing, about the speed cameras, whos the 3rd party that is independently verifying that we are indeed going the speed it says we’re going? Is writing traffic tickets . . . a means by which the officers can get overtime in court?

  14. Anonymous on March 22, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    How about not pull us over in the first place?