Know the Law – Michigan’s ‘Move Over’ Law

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Michigan has an “emergency vehicle caution” law -- better known as the “move over” law. What is the move over law? It’s fairly simple: when you see a first responder at the scene of accident, you must “move over and slow down.”

The move over law is part of the Michigan Vehicle Code. It says that when a motorist approaches a “stationary authorized emergency vehicle” that has its red, blue or white lights “flashing, rotating or oscillating,” then the motorist must move into an open, if possible. If it’s not possible to move into another lane, then the driver must slow down and give the emergency vehicle(s) as much room as possible. This applies whether the motorist is traveling a road with at least two lanes in the same direction, or on a roadway with only one lane in the same direction.

What are the penalties for not moving over and/or slowing down? Drivers can be ticketed and fined, and face up to 4 points on their license. There are enhanced penalties (up to 15 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine) if motorists causes injury or death to a first responder.

Michigan’s current “move over” law applies only to first responders. According to the statute, first responders include police, fire, rescue, ambulance and road service workers (i.e., wreckers & transportation department vehicles). However, Senate Bill 477 seeks to change this by including road workers under the “move over” law.

Every year, dozens of Michigan road construction workers are injured or killed on the job. In 2016, there were more than 4,900 work-zone crashes in Michigan, resulting in 17 fatalities and 75 serious injuries. There is growing concern for the safety of road workers because more motorists are driving at excessive speeds. In fact, just recently Michigan increased the speed limit on numerous roadways. Another growing concern is that more and more motorists are distracted while driving, especially by their cell phones.

Among other things, Senate Bill 477 would add “amber lights” to the “red, blue or white lights” in the current law. The proposal would also require motorists to reduce their speed by 10 miles per hour when approaching a first responder or road worker. Proponents of Senate Bill 477 say the color of the lights shouldn’t matter because police officers, emergency workers, firefighters, tow truck operators -- and road construction workers -- all want to get home safely at the end of the day.

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