Every year, dozens of police officers and first responders suffer injuries while responding to traffic-related incidents. When an officer pulls a driver over or ambulance personnel are assisting victims after an accident, another vehicle can strike them while they are on the side of the road. To protect emergency workers performing their roadside duties, Texas requires all drivers to follow the Move Over/Slow Down law.
The Move Over/Slow Down Law
The Move Over/Slow Down law was enacted in 2003 to protect emergency personnel responding to incidents on Texas roads. Under this law, if a driver sees a protected worker’s vehicle flashing its emergency lights while parked on the side of the road, he or she must move into a different lane to provide more space. While passing these vehicles, the driver must slow to a speed at least 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Protected personnel include the following:
- Law enforcement officers
- Tow truck drivers
- Emergency medical responders
- Recycling, composting, and garbage workers
- Utility workers, such as power line crews
- Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) employees
According to TxDOT, state lawmakers expanded the original law in 2013 to include protections for TxDOT workers. Texas expanded the law again in 2019 to include service utility vehicles, including garbage trucks and TxDOT vehicles.
Penalties for Violating the Move Over/Slow Down Law
If someone is driving and sees an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, it is very important that he or she follows the Move Over/Slow Down Law. Not only does driving too close and too fast put these workers at risk, but violating this law carries hefty penalties. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation, the at-fault driver could face a misdemeanor charge.
- If the driver fails to move over or slow down but the violation does not result in an accident, he or she could face a fine of up to $200.
- If the driver violates the Move Over/Slow Down Law and the violation causes property damage, he or she could face a fine of up to $500.
- If the violation results in an accident and injury to protected personnel, the driver could receive a Class B misdemeanor charge. This carries a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time.
Legal Options for Injured Emergency Personnel
If you are an emergency worker, you deserve safety while performing your duties. If a driver violates the Move Over/Slow Down Law and you suffer injuries, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Not only could you file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, but you may also be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against the at-fault driver.
Determining your optimal path to maximum compensation can be a challenge, however. Texas does not require all employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance and you may not be eligible to file a claim. Additionally, negotiating with insurance companies or defense attorneys can be difficult without a Houston accident lawyer on your side.
If you suffer injuries due to another driver’s negligence, an attorney can help. Your attorney can evaluate your case, determine which claims you are eligible for, and take the first steps to seek the compensation you need to recover. Contact your attorney as soon as possible after the accident to discuss your legal options.