West Virginia's Move Over Law was established to protect law enforcement agents and motorists in distress. Here are some important details to know about the law to help keep everyone on and off the road safe from harm.
Move Over For These Types of Vehicles
The Move Over Law applies to any "stationary authorized emergency vehicle." The West Virginia Code defines these vehicles as, "vehicles of a fire department, duly chartered rescue squad, police department, ambulance service, state, county or municipal agency." This definition includes obvious vehicles such as police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances, and also extends to other emergency vehicles such as tow trucks, snow removal vehicles and equipment and roadside service vehicles. Emergency vehicles for which you must move over are easily identifiable by their alternately flashing red-and-white or red-and-blue lights, or flashing red, blue, amber or yellow lights. Red and blue lights are for emergency situations, while yellow and amber lights are for warnings.
Change Lanes Safely
There are two methods to comply with the Move Over Law: change lanes away from the vehicles or reduce speed. When changing lanes, you should only move over one adjacent lane in the opposite direction of where the emergency vehicles are stopped. When changing lanes, only do so if the path is clear and you have signaled that you are moving over. The changing lanes rule only applies to highways with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction. The change lanes rule does not apply to single-lane roads; therefore, drivers must adhere to the reduced speed rule.
If You Cannot Change Lanes, Reduce Your Speed Accordingly
On single-lane roads or roads with heavy traffic where switching lanes is difficult, you may remain in the lane adjacent to the emergency vehicles only if you slow down. You must reduce your speed to 15 miles per hour on non-divided highways and 25 miles per hour on divided highways. When reducing speed, do so gradually so you do not alarm drivers behind you with an abrupt application of your brakes.
Always Be Aware of Roadside Emergency Activity
When you see emergency vehicles it's not always easy to tell what kind of emergency is occurring. It may be a simple traffic stop involving a police cruiser, or medical response to a serious accident. Sometimes emergency personnel have to exit their vehicles on busy highways and attempt to divert traffic, placing them in hazardous conditions. Even if you are not adjacent to the emergency vehicles, you should still exercise extra caution in the event emergency personnel need to enter the road to direct traffic or remove debris and stranded vehicles. Failing to comply with the Move Over Law may result in misdemeanor charges that include potential fines up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 60 days. If your failure to comply with the law results in property damage or injury, the penalties may increase and your driving privileges may be suspended.
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