Currently, it is the law in Maryland that any driver passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road must move over one lane in order to help prevent an accident. This legislation was passed in the wake of a nationwide trend of accidents involving emergency workers assisting (or ticketing) motorists on the side of the highway.
However, a new law that went into effect on October 1 will extend the category of protected individuals to tow-truck drivers as well as emergency personnel. As it turns out, a number of tow-truck drivers have lost their lives in accidents caused by passing motorists getting too close—much too close, in fact.
In one account, described in a recent article by CBS Baltimore, a tow-truck driver was on the side of the road on Route 100 helping a disabled motorist when he was hit by a car. The car didn’t stop and left him for dead. He left behind a wife and two young children.
The new law leaves room for situations where moving over is not possible, exempting drivers in these situations.
The Costs of Not Complying
The punishment for failing to move over depends on the severity of the offense:
- For a first-time offender, the fine is $110 and one point will be added to the license.
- If the failure to move over resulted in an accident, the fine is $150 and two points will be added to the license.
- If the violation results in a serious injury or death, the fine is $750 and three points will be added to the offender’s license.
Forty-six other states have similar laws that require motorists to move over for emergency roadside personnel.
The Effect of the Law on Roadside Motorists
The current law does nothing to protect regular motorists who are on the side of the road. And the new law will not extend such protection. However, in a roundabout way, the new law may help to extend a general duty to move over for anybody on the side of the road.
Maryland accident law allows for accident victims to recover from the person at fault for the accident. In determining who was at fault in a serious Maryland car accident, the judge or jury will consider the “reasonable person” standard. In other words, what would a reasonable person do in the defendant’s shoes?
As the law requiring motorists to move over keeps expanding, it shows society’s overall feeling about what drivers should do when there is a car on the side of the road: they should move over.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the side of a highway after being hit by a passing car, you may be entitled to monetary damages, even if you are not a tow-truck driver, police officer, or fireman. To learn more about the laws in Maryland and how you may be able to recover for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free initial consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Doctor Allegedly Sexually Assaults Second Patient, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 2, 2014.
Woman Who Lost Husband and Two Sons When Home Depot Collapsed Sues Under Negligence Theory Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 20, 2014.