Insurance Commissioner urges motorists to adhere to the Move Over Law to protect lives

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has joined Governor Highway Safety Director Mark Ezzell in a news conference to remind motorists of the importance of the state’s Move Over Law.

The law requires motorists on multi-lane highways to move over one lane when approaching emergency response or maintenance vehicles stopped with lights flashing.  It also requires motorists on a two-lane highway to slow down until they safely pass the emergency responder.  The law’s goal is to create a greater margin of safety for public officials who have stopped on the side of the road.

“We’ve seen Department of Transportation workers killed.  We’ve seen law enforcement killed.  We’ve seen first responders killed and it’s totally unnecessary,“ said Commissioner Causey. “If people would just slow down, pay attention and move over, these lives would not have been lost.”

The news conference comes on the heels of two recent accidents involving motorists who failed to move over.  One, in Rowan county where several fire trucks responding to a call were struck by a tractor trailer.  The accident caused more than $1 million in damages.  The other incident occurred in Huntersville on July 4 when a trooper was seriously injured when a car struck him while assisting a crash investigation on I-485. 

“We think that distractions play a big role in motorists not moving over,” said Director Ezzell. “Motorists are distracted by their emotions, by COVID, their health, worries about jobs and family. First responders work day in and day out to keep our roads safe.  It is now our turn to keep them safe by paying attention.”

The Move Over law requires motorists to move one lane over and slow down for stopped law enforcement, fire department, ambulances and rescue squad vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, vehicles operated by the N.C. Forest Service, Division of Parks and Recreation and the Division of Marine Fisheries.  It also applies to public service vehicles such as tow trucks, vehicles installing, maintaining or restoring utility services, garbage, solid waste or recycling trucks.

The penalty for motorists who do not comply with the 2002 law has increased significantly as of Dec. 1, 2019 if a violation causes a serious accident.  Violating the law is punishable by fines, court costs, possible jail time and an increase of three insurance points on a driver’s license, which can increase your auto insurance premiums by as much as 60% for three years. A motorist can also lose their driver’s license for up to six months.

Commissioner Causey and Director Ezzell ‘s goal is to raise awareness of the law on the day before the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.  This is the day when the nation stops to honor the first responders and the men and women who either lost their lives or were injured in the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.