Police remind drivers to move over ahead of law expansion

Brad Kauffman, of Green's Garage in Hampstead, demonstrates the hazards of roadside towing along eastbound Route 140 in Westminster on Wednesday.
Brad Kauffman, of Green's Garage in Hampstead, demonstrates the hazards of roadside towing along eastbound Route 140 in Westminster on Wednesday. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

PIKESVILLE — As police prepare to enforce an expanded "move over" law that will include tow trucks beginning Oct. 1, officers are tired of hearing that Marylanders aren't aware of the law at all.

"Despite all of the information that has been put forth, motorists still seem to not be aware of the law or claim ignorance of the law," AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Cooper-Averella said.


The current law requires that when approaching a stopped police or emergency vehicle at the side of the road, vehicles must slow down and, if possible, change lanes, according to Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Marcus Brown.

The original law, passed in 2010, included only police and fire vehicles stopped with emergency lights activated, according to a news release from the Maryland State Police and AAA Mid-Atlantic.


The law was later expanded to include all emergency services vehicles and, beginning Oct. 1, the law will include tow trucks attending to roadside emergencies as well, according to Brown.

"It's important that drivers stay alert for these situations," Brown said at a news conference Wednesday at the Maryland State Police Headquarters in Pikesville.

Larry Green, owner of Green's Garage in Hampstead, said that tow truck companies have been lobbying for their vehicles to be included in the move over law for years.

"We want our drivers safe," he said. "We need them to go home at night."


Green said one of his company's vehicles was hit on Interstate 795 in February by a driver who was texting.

The tow truck driver was not injured but the truck sustained approximately $12,000 in damage, Green said.

"They don't care," Green said of many drivers approaching stopped vehicles. "They just don't move over."

In 2011, 38-year-old tow truck driver James Schreiber was struck and killed along Md. 100 in Anne Arundel County while assisting a disabled truck.

Schreiber's wife, Jenna Schreiber, spoke at the news conference Wednesday about the importance of moving over for any stopped vehicle on the side of the road, but especially for drivers of emergency vehicles and tow trucks.

"Everybody belongs to somebody," she said.

Police officers, the group protected by the original 2010 law, continue to have members of their ranks killed or seriously injured by distracted drivers or those who ignore the move over law, Brown said.

On Oct. 6, 2013, Trooper Jacqueline Kline of the Maryland State Police was assisting another trooper on a traffic stop when she was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured, according to the release.

Kline has not yet returned to active duty, but she spoke Wednesday about the move over law and her frustration with drivers who continue to ignore it.

"It's not only common sense but common courtesy to move over and slow down your vehicle," Kline said. "Their lives should not be put in danger for trying to help people."

As recently as Monday, a Maryland State Trooper was injured in Prince George's County when a vehicle struck him while he was conducting a vehicle search on the shoulder of Interstate 495, according to a Maryland State Police news release.

The driver did not remain at the scene and was later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the release.

Each time the move over law expands, Brown said that police do their best to spread the word, using everything from social media to signs on major roads.

"The real intent of the law is to change behavior," Brown said. "The last thing we want to do is enforce it."

Violating the move over law can carry a fine of $110 and one point on your license, Brown said.

If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $150 and three points, according to Brown. If the crash results in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points.

Police have discretion to write a citation or a warning for a violation, Brown said. Since Oct. 1, 2013, a total of 9,563 tickets have been issued statewide for violations of the move over law.

Reach staff writer Heather Cobun at 410-857-7898 or email heather.cobun@carrollcountytimes.com

Penalties for Move Over Law violations

Violation with no crash: $110 and one point

Violation with crash: $150 and three points

Violation with crash and death or serious injury: $750 and three points

Source: AAA Mid-Atlantic, Maryland State Police

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