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Move over law

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Title: Move over law  
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Subject: Traffic law, Warning (traffic stop), Driving licence in Finland, 'How's my driving?' sign, Road Users' Code
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Move over law

A move over law is a law which requires motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers. In the past, Canada and United States have used this term to apply to two different concepts; however, this is beginning to change as Canadian provinces have begun expanding the scope of their move over laws.

Move Over Laws in Canada

In Canada, the move over laws are intended to encourage the fast response of emergency vehicles. These laws require motorists, upon noticing an incoming emergency vehicle (coming from any direction) with sirens or flashing lights operating, to move to the farthest right lane/shoulder and stop, until the vehicle has passed the vicinity.

The Province of Ontario's Ministry of Transportation and the Province of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure were the first to implement move over laws.[1] Quebec was the last province to implement a move over law, which came into effect on August 5th, 2012.[2]

In 2005, the government of Alberta expanded the scope of the province’s move over laws. Amendments were made to the province’s Traffic Safety Act to require drivers to either slow down or move over when passing emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on the side of a highway when their "flashing lamps are operating."[3] The maximum speed for passing stationary emergency vehicles or tow trucks was set at 60 kph, and the fines for exceeding that speed were doubled.[4]

In 2012, Quebec established a Move Over Law (called in French as Corridor de sécurité, or Safety corridor). Unlike other laws found in US states and Canadian provinces, the Quebec law had broader application. Drivers would have to slow down and provide a buffer lane to a stopped service vehicle with active strobing/rotating lights or active traffic arrow. The service vehicles may be tow trucks, emergency vehicles (ambulance, police, fire), or highway department patrol vehicles.

Move Over Laws in the United States

Move Over laws were originated in the US after a South Carolina Paramedic, James D. Garcia, was struck and injured at an accident scene Jan. 28, 1994, in Lexington, SC. Garcia was listed at fault, leading to his work to create a law to protect other emergency responders. SC's version (SC 56-5-1538) passed in 1996, and was revised in 2002.

After a series of similar events across the US in 2000, the US Dept of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration began to address the issue of Emergency Scene Safety, and issued recommended changes for the new MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices) that finally addressed the need for improved standards and protection for Emergency Workers. With the further assistance of public interest groups such as the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (, "Move Over Laws" became standard across the US and Canada.


In United States, the move over laws are aimed at protecting emergency responders working along the roadside. Forty-nine U.S. states have passed move over laws, which were promoted in response to increasing roadside fatalities in the line of duty. The law require drivers, upon noticing either emergency vehicle with sirens and/or flashing lights, to move away from the vehicle by one lane, or if that is not possible, slow down to either a reasonable speed or a fixed speed below the limit as defined by local law. This includes law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. In New York State, drivers must use due care when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting such as law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances and also vehicles with flashing amber lighting such as tow trucks, construction vehicles and other service workers stopped along the side of the road while performing their duties.[6]

Currently, only Washington, D.C. does not have a move over law. On June 17, 2009, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed House Bill 5894, establishing a Move Over requirement in the state. Connecticut's Move Over law took effect on October 1, 2009.[7][8] On August 13, 2010, New York's governor signed a move over law to take effect 1/1/2011. On 1/1/12 the move over law was modified to include, not only police, fire trucks and ambulances, but also hazard vehicles, such as tow trucks.[9] Maryland's move over law provisions, which were approved by Governor O'Malley on May 20, 2010, came into effect on October 1, 2010.[10][11] On October 1, 2012 North Carolina's newly revised "move over law", which has been expanded to include utility and maintenance operations, will go into effect.


  1. ^ Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) Public Notice
  2. ^ Government of Quebec, Ministry of Transport (MTQ), "Reminder from the Minister of Transport: Move Over Law Comes into Effect on August 5" (CNW CODE 01), Office of the Minister of Transport, 30 July 2012
  3. ^ Traffic Safety Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. T-6, s. 115(2)(t) and s. 115(4)
  4. ^ Part 28.1 of the Procedures Regulation, Alta. Reg. 233/89 (pursuant to the Provincial Offences Procedures Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. P-34
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ Governor Rell signs ‘move over’ bill into law, Stamford Plus, June 17, 2009
  8. ^ HB 5894 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A "MOVE OVER" LAW IN CONNECTICUT. Connecticut General Assembly, Accessed July 2, 2009
  9. ^
  10. ^ An Act concerning Motor Vehicles - Approaching Emergency Vehicles and Personnel
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