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GAO Releases Report on Move Over Laws and Responder Safety

Posted: April 22, 2021

Despite Move Over laws in every state, first responders remain at risk for being killed or injured by passing vehicles at roadside emergencies.

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute reported a rash of struck-by incidents involving emergency responders across the country in the first week of April, including an assistant fire chief in Bastrop, Texas.

Fire, emergency medical services, police, towing and other responders are at risk for being killed or injured by passing vehicles at roadside emergencies. To protect these vulnerable workers and improve highway safety, all states and the District of Columbia have enacted Move Over laws.

Move Over laws vary by state but generally require motorists to move over a lane or slow down, or both, when approaching emergency response vehicles with flashing lights stopped on the roadside.

Impact of Move Over laws

In December 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to the Congress on the impact of state Move Over laws. Some of the findings from the report Emergency Responder Safety: States and DOT Are Implementing Actions to Reduce Roadside Crashes PDF include:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data provided limited information on whether crashes involved violations of state Move Over laws.
  • State officials cited raising public awareness as the most prevalent challenge, as motorists may not know the law exists or its specific requirements.

Addressing the challenges

The NHTSA is taking these actions to help states improve emergency responder roadside safety:

  • Promote public awareness through marketing materials that states can use for their own traffic safety campaigns.
  • Provide funding for public awareness activities or enforcement initiatives related to emergency responder safety.
  • Conduct research to enhance emergency responder safety, including studies on motorist behaviors that contribute to roadside incidents and technologies that protect first responders.

In addition, the Federal Highway Administration is working with a coordinated network of stakeholders to provide roadside safety training programs for emergency responders.

For more information

Review U.S. Fire Administration resources on emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety for best practices and recommendations on safer incident response.

Slow down, move over social outreach

Share this card on your social media channels and add your own message to raise public awareness about the Move Over law in your state.

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For more information

Review U.S. Fire Administration resources on emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety for best practices and recommendations on safer incident response.

This article is based on content in the
April 22, 2021 InfoGram.

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