California “Move Over” Law and Wrongful Death

cars moving over to protect emergency personnelCalifornia motorists are required to take action when approaching an area on the freeway where emergency vehicles are present and displaying emergency lights.  This is known as the “Move Over Law,” where motorists must safely move over to a lane not adjacent to the emergency vehicles.

If not practical or safe to do so, the motorist must slow down to a reasonable or prudent speed that is safe for the existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.  Enacted in 42 states, this law is intended to protect emergency workers and personnel at the scene of an emergency incident or other situation where public safety personnel are present.

California Vehicle Code section 21809 states:

21809.  (a) A person driving a vehicle on a freeway approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying emergency lights, a stationary tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, or a stationary marked Department of Transportation vehicle that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, shall approach with due caution and, before passing in a lane immediately adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, or Department of Transportation vehicle, absent other direction by a peace officer, proceed to do one of the following:

(1) Make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, or Department of Transportation vehicle, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, if practicable and not prohibited by law.

(2) If the maneuver described in paragraph (1) would be unsafe or impracticable, slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.

(b) A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than fifty dollars ($50).

(c) The requirements of subdivision (a) do not apply if the stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying emergency lights, the stationary tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, or the stationary marked Department of Transportation vehicle that is displaying flashing amber warning lights is not adjacent to the freeway or is separated from the freeway by a protective physical barrier.

As a Roseville personal injury lawyer, I have seen the devastation wrongful death accidents like this can cause for Roseville  families. I ask that you please remember the “move over law” while driving to avoid causing another tragic accident.

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