Texas Move Over/Slow Down Law


Texas Move Over/Slow Down Law

Every state in the United States has some form of the Move Over Law. Although the stipulations of the law may vary by state, the main goal remains the same: to safeguard emergency personnel and others from collisions when responding to jobs on the side of the road. Understanding and obeying the Move Over Law in Texas are requirements if you wish to avoid fines and penalties. The Texas Move Over/Slow Down law, which went into effect in 2003, requires that drivers move over or slow down when passing vehicles — including police, EMS, fire, TxDOT, or tow trucks – that are stopped on the side of the road with the emergency lights on.

According to Texas law, a driver must:

  • Vacate the lane closest to the applicable vehicles stopped on the side of the road (if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction) or
  • Vacate the lane closest to the applicable vehicles stopped on the side of the road (if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction) or
  • Slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit. (If the speed limit is below 25 mph, the driver must slow down to 5 mph)

Violators can face the following consequences:

  • Up to $200 for not following the law
  • $500 if the violation results in property damage
  • Charge of a Class B misdemeanor that could result in jail time or a fine up to $2,000

As a Texas driver, it’s your duty to obey the Move Over Law. This means you must slow down and/or switch lanes to give certain vehicles plenty of room when on official duty. If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, it’s wise to move over a lane or slow down to enhance the safety of any employees present. Moving over can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to roadside workers, who could otherwise lose their lives if drivers aren’t paying enough attention and driving too close to parked vehicles.

Several times in the last several years, DPS and other police agencies in Texas have chosen to crack down on this law, and more crackdowns are planned for the future. First responders risk their lives every day and, like every other worker in Texas, they have the right to the safest possible workplace. This includes police, fire, EMTs, and even tow truck drivers and trash collectors, where high stress is a major part of the job. And when they have to work in traffic, that stress can spike even higher than usual. So while they do their best to keep an eye on the other drivers on the road, there is a lot to worry about, and mistakes can be made.

An update to the law which officially took effect on Sept. 1, 2019 adds utility service vehicles to the list of vehicles for which all other drivers must either move one lane to the left or slow down to a minimum speed when passing. The Texas legislature added these vehicles to the list of vehicles entitled to protection after safety issues were identified during the extensive restoration work needed after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), in 2017, more than 10,650 warnings and citations were issued to drivers who violated the Move Over/Slow Down law. However, in 2018, DPS issued more than 35,000 warnings and citations just through October of that year. Given the number of vehicle crashes that occur every day across the state, and the number of tickets and warnings that are still being issued due to violation of this law, too many Texans are either unaware of the law or choose to ignore it.

While a Move Over/Slow Down violation can seem minor, it can cause significant repercussions in the event of an accident. If you are involved in a collision and cited for a Move Over/Slow Down violation, it will be particularly challenging to deny liability. If the other party can prove the accident would not have occurred if not for your negligence, then you will most likely be held responsible for the crash. Under Texas’ rule of comparative fault, you cannot recover compensation after an accident if you are found 51% or more at fault.

Many times, factors like weather or traffic may prevent you from being able to safely move a lane away from vehicles parked on the side of the road. This has long posed a problem, as the specifics about what a driver should do in this scenario aren’t directly addressed. If you can prove that you were unable to move over or slow down, it may limit your liability for an accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident that involved the Move Over/Slow Down law in Texas, call the Hadi Law Firm. Our Houston car accident lawyer is here to help and fight for the compensation you deserve. Reach us online to schedule your free consultation.

May 27, 2021
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