This week the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) is placing special emphasis on adding tow trucks to the Driver Safety Move Over and Slow Down laws currently in place in Texas. Current Texas law requires motorists to move over and slow down when emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the road with their lights activated.
According to TXDPS Director Steven McCraw, “The Move Over and Slow Down law is about providing extra protection for those individuals on the side of the road doing their jobs, as well as the people on the roadside with them. Thanks to this new provision, tow trucks, who are usually helping motorists in distress, now have additional protection under the law so they can do their jobs in a safer environment.”
The Move Over and Slow Down law requires drivers to safely move over from the lane closest to the stopped vehicle (if there is more than one available lane in the same direction of travel) or slow to 20 miles below the speed limit when tow trucks are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. If a driver is traveling down an interstate with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, drivers are required to get out of the right lane and into the center or left lanes of the highway when a tow truck or other emergency vehicle is on the right shoulder. If you are driving down a 2 lane road where only one lane of traffic is traveling in the same direction, drivers are then required to slow to at least 20 miles below the posted speed limit.
In 2011 more than 17,000 warnings and citations were issued to motorists in violation of the Driver Safety Move Over and Slow Down law and another 6,000 the first 5 months of 2012. Violators can be fined up to $200 per instance; however if there is property damage or injury to a person the punishment increases to possible jail time.
Next time you are on Texas roadways and see emergency lights activated, tow trucks, or TxDOT vehicles with blue and yellow lights activated, you are required by law to Move Over and Slow Down. Texans don’t’ need any more traffic tickets, so stay safe out there on the roadways!