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Move Over: Virginia law expanded in 2023 for any disabled vehicles on roadways

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Virginia enacted the Move Over law in 2002 to help prevent roadway tragedies and keep the Commonwealth’s highways safe for everyone.

The law was expanded last year to cover anyone stopped on the highway in a vehicle displaying hazard lights, warning signs or flares. Under the law, if drivers see a stationary vehicle with flashing lights or flares on the side of the highway, they must move over into the next lane, and if they can’t move over safely, simply slow down. Violation of the law can result in fines and, in some cases, jail time.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reminds drivers to stay alert and take precautions, including slowing down and moving over to prevent crashes, during one of the deadliest times of the year for drivers and pedestrians.

July is National Roadside Safety Awareness Month, and VDOT encourages all drivers to do their part in reducing vehicle crashes and fatalities that occur along Virginia’s roadways.

VDOT wants drivers to be cautious and move over to protect VDOT workers, including highway maintenance crews and Safety Service Patrol operators. Since January 2023, 66 crashes have involved VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol fleet and personnel. Three workers were injured and one killed assisting motorists along some of the busiest corridors in the state.

VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol is a free resource to assist drivers should an issue arise while traveling the interstate. The Move Over law helps protect them as they work to assist disabled and stopped vehicles. The service responds to more than 212,000 incidents every year and assists with everything from short-term traffic control and scene management to tire change assistance, jump starts and extra fuel for stranded motorists. To ensure safety, patrol operators wear special highly visible, reflective uniforms and drive specially marked vehicles.

If you breakdown or are involved in a minor traffic incident, here are some tips for staying safe:

  • Turn on the vehicle’s flashers and use caution when getting out of the vehicle to make a repair or examine damage on a busy highway.
  • When possible, move the vehicle to a safe spot away from traffic before exiting the vehicle.
  • If your car won’t start or is too damaged to operate, call for help inside of the vehicle. Avoid standing outside of the vehicle unless absolutely necessary. If you need to stand outside of the vehicle, make sure you are away from traffic.
  • Be sure to always carry a roadside safety kit in case of an emergency.

Drivers can help address roadside safety on the highway by making smart choices when getting behind the wheel and observing the Move Over law.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.