Serving Cape Cod and the Surrounding Areas

Massachusetts Move Over Law

What is the Massachusetts Move Over Law? Each year, first responders and tow truck drivers across the country are injured or killed on the job while providing roadside emergency services help to those in need. Dangerous habits like distracted driving, aggressive driving and operating under the influence of alcohol and cannabis products continue to exacerbate the issue. As we approach the tenth anniversary of the signing of Massachusetts’ “Move Over Law”, we feel it is still necessary to educate drivers old and new about its importance.

Move Over Law Overview

Signed into law on March 22, 2009, Massachusetts General Law – Part I, Title XIV, Chapter 89, Section 7C requires any driver approaching a stationary emergency, maintenance vehicle or recovery vehicle with flashing lights to move to the next adjacent lane and slow down, if it is safe to do so. Here are definitions of the stated vehicles:

● Emergency response vehicle – a fire apparatus, police vehicle, ambulance, or disaster vehicle.

● Highway maintenance vehicle – a vehicle used for the maintenance of highways and roadways: (1) that is 
owned or operated by the executive office of transportation and public works, a county, a municipality or any political subdivision thereof; or (2) that is owned or operated by a person under contract with the executive office of transportation and public works, a county, a municipality or any political subdivision thereof.

● Recovery vehicle – a vehicle that is specifically designed to assist a disabled vehicle or to tow a disabled vehicle. 
This law was instituted to protect all emergency responders. A common misconception is that a driver only needs to pull over for police, fire and ambulance vehicles. It’s important to spread the word to move over for recovery vehicles as well. When tow truck drivers are assisting or removing a disabled vehicle, they are particularly susceptible to the dangers of oncoming vehicles. According to a report by the American Automobile Association (AAA), a tow truck driver is killed every six days.

Steps to Take When You See the Flashing Lights Up Ahead

Do your part to keep police, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck drivers, and all roadside emergency and maintenance professionals safer on the job. Here’s what you need to do:

● Proceed with due caution
● Reduce the speed of your vehicle to that of a reasonable and safe speed
● When safe to do so, make a lane change
● Keep an eye out for other approaching emergency vehicles
● If changing lanes is impracticable, proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the vehicle

How Much Is A Ticket for Not Moving Over?

Of the states to institute the law, maximum penalties and fines vary from state to state. For example, California has a maximum fine of $25, while violators in Arkansas could see a $500 fine with potential jail time/ license suspension. On Cape Cod in Massachusetts, failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $100. Beyond the possibility of a fine, a driver’s duty of care should dictate that they move over when possible and necessary to make Massachusetts roadways safer for everyone.