TALLAHASSEE — January is Move Over Month in the Sunshine State, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are reminding all motorists of Florida’s Move Over Law to help protect law enforcement officers, first responders, and other public servants while they provide critical services in one of the most dangerous environments – the side of the roadway.
While majority of drivers understand to pull over for emergency vehicles approaching from behind, state law also requires vehicles to move over a lane for certain emergency and service vehicles stopped on the side of the road, or slow down if they cannot safely move over. Effective July 2021, Florida motorists are also required to move over for road and bridge maintenance or construction vehicles displaying warning lights. Preliminary data from FLHSMV shows that in 2021, there were 191 crashes and more than 14,000 citations issued for motorists failing to move over in Florida.
“Moving over and slowing down for emergency and service vehicles is law in Florida; but by doing so, drivers are also displaying a nod of support to the men and women who call the road their office,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Crashes that occur because of a driver that failed to move over are completely preventable; they take our officers and members of our communities away from their families, who gave freely to make Florida a safer place to live and travel. As you head to your destinations this year, remember these four words if you see flashing lights: slow down, move over.”
Throughout the month of January, FHP troopers will continue to educate the public, individuals not complying with the Move Over Law, and other motorists they come into contact with. The public is encouraged to report aggressive or dangerous drivers by dialing *FHP (*347).
“Florida Troopers put their lives on the line each and every day on our roadways,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Please remember to Move Over for all our first responders and critical service providers, so they can return home safely to their families at the end of the day.”
All 50 states in the U.S. have Move Over laws in place, and Florida’s Move Over Law was added to section 316.126, Florida Statutes, in 2002. The statute, which was originally introduced in 1971, requires motorists to move or yield right-of-way to emergency vehicles. In 2014, utility and sanitation vehicles were added to the Move Over Law, and most recently, in 2021, road and bridge maintenance or construction vehicles displaying warning lights were added.
Complying with Florida’s Move Over Law:
• As soon as it is safe to do so, vacate the lane closest to the stationary emergency vehicle, sanitation vehicle, utility service vehicle, wrecker, or road and bridge maintenance or construction vehicle when driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes.
• Always signal your intention to change lanes.
• Be prepared to allow those who are attempting to move over into the next lane.
• If moving over cannot be safely accomplished, slow down to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 mph or greater; or travel at 5 mph when the posted speed limit is 20 mph or less when driving on a two-lane road.
FLHSMV is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, and AAA – The Auto Club Group to drive the Move Over message home to ensure all emergency and service professionals that work on and along Florida’s roadways Arrive Alive in 2022.
• “Florida’s Move Over Law is about protecting the people who serve on our roadways. Sadly, this past year, FDOT lost a veteran Road Ranger of 10 years, and several employees have been seriously injured as a result of drivers not moving over,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “Ensuring the safety of our employees has and will always be paramount, and I implore each and every driver to help us as we aim to prevent any further tragedies involving the men and women who selflessly work to keep Florida moving safely.”
• “Every day our law enforcement officers, and first responders put their lives at risk to protect Florida residents and visitors. One of the greatest hazards they face is on our roadways. When you see a law enforcement or other vehicle with flashing lights, please slow down, move over, and give them space to stay safe,” said Chief Stephan Dembinsky, Daytona Beach Shores Police Department and President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “When you safely move over, other drivers behind you are more likely to do so. This simple act of safely moving over may be the most important contribution you can make in helping our first responders return home safely not only during the holidays, but year-round.”
• “While protecting the public, deputies and other first responders are in harm’s way during traffic stops and traffic crash investigations. Please follow the law and do your part to protect those who protect you on Florida’s roads by ‘moving over’ to another lane,” stated Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.
• “Their lives are on your shoulders,” said Michele Harris, Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Please remember to Slow Down, Move Over for emergency responders so you can help save lives.”
Information on Florida’s Move Over Law and downloadable campaign materials can be found on FLHSMV’s Move Over webpage. In addition to the awareness campaign, FLHSMV educates new and young drivers on the Move Over Law year-round with information in the Florida Driver Handbook and includes Move Over questions on the Florida driver knowledge exam.