Move Over. It’s the Law

May 10, 2024



While driving on a Pennsylvania highway, one may wonder what to do if a first responder’s vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. Instinctually many drivers begin to slow-down, however most drivers are unaware of the speed they must pass, as well as the lane-changing requirements now enacted in Pennsylvania. While all fifty states require some action on the part of drivers to law enforcement and first responders on the side of the road, Pennsylvania has specific requirements drivers must obey when passing first responders or disabled vehicles on roadways.

What The Law Says

In 2021, Act 105 went into effect in Pennsylvania, which states that drivers must attempt to use the left lane when passing first responders or motorists in an emergency response area. An emergency response area is where an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing, or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares or posted signs. This law not only applies to first responders in emergency response areas, but also to disabled vehicles. Disabled vehicles are defined in the act as vehicles that have deployed vehicular hazard lamps, caution signs or road flares. Drivers who are unable to switch lanes must pass at a speed no greater than 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. For example, if the speed limit is 60 miles per hour and a police car is conducting a traffic stop on the side of the road and you are unable to switch lanes, you must pass at no greater than 40 miles per hour.


The Importance of “Move Over” Laws

Every year first responders and motorists are killed on the side of the road by drivers who fail to switch lanes or slow down. According to The National Institute of Justice (2017) “More law enforcement officers die each year in traffic incidents than from any other cause, including shootings. Many of these deaths occur on the roadside as officers perform their duties.” Failing to move over or slowdown is not just a Pennsylvania problem but an issue nationwide, as the American Automobile Association has conducted research finding that 123 roadside assistance providers were killed by drivers passing by from 2015-2021. Failing to move over or slow down puts our first responders in grave danger and can ultimately end their lives. Specifically, in 2023, PennDOT reported that “158 first responders have been struck and killed in Pennsylvania since 2001.”  Move Over Laws, such as Act 105, protect our first responders and aim to prevent further injuries or deaths.


Fines and Penalties

The consequences of not adhering to Pennsylvania Act 105 or “Move Over Laws” are extensive and can negatively impact both your wallet and driving record. First time offences for noncompliance of Act 105 include two points on your driving record and a $500 dollar fine. Second time offences can result in fines starting at $1,000 and third or subsequent offences are levied at $2,000. For drivers who violate this law three times the consequences become more severe, as a 90-day license suspension is required. Furthermore, if a driver kills or injures another resulting from their failure to move over or slow down, penalties include a $10,000 fine and a six-month license suspension. Additionally, if multiple traffic infractions are committed while violating Act 105 fines are doubled.


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