Valley City Times-Record
AAA North Dakota leads effort to expand state’s Move Over Law to disabled vehicles
FARGO, ND (January 11, 2023) –– AAA will be weighing in Thursday before the House Transportation Committee as legislators hear testimony regarding proposed legislation to expand North Dakota’s s Slow Down, Move Over law.
House Bill (HB) 1141 is sponsored by Representative Austen Schauer of West Fargo. The bill requires drivers approaching a disabled vehicle displaying hazard warning lights from the rear to make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the vehicle, or to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for conditions.
Current state law applies to emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and highway maintenance vehicles. Passage of HB 1141 would expand the state’s current Move-Over law, to cover all vehicles displaying hazard lights.
“Being on the side of the road is dangerous for everyone and we have seen that even those who the law is already intended to protect are not exempt from the perils on the road,” said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for AAA-The Auto Club Group.
Across the country, nearly 350 people are struck and killed every year while outside a disabled vehicle, according to LaDoucer. In North Dakota, an average of one vehicle is struck per month while sitting stationary along an interstate or multi-lane highway in the state, according to state data from 2017-2021.
Despite every state in the country having some form of Move Over law, motorists routinely indicate that they are either unaware of state laws that require them to slow down and/or move over for emergency vehicles or that they are uncertain which groups or types of vehicles apply.
A AAA poll of North Dakota drivers conducted last fall indicated a similar lack of understanding or awareness around the state’s Move Over law, with 36 percent of drivers polled indicating they were ‘unsure’ or thought there was ‘no’ Move Over law in the state. That same survey indicated 96 percent of North Dakota motorists would be “very” or “somewhat” concerned about other vehicles passing closely at high speeds if they were stopped on the side of the road.
HB 1141 simplifies the law, makes education efforts easier and increases the safety of all road users, including emergency and road maintenance workers both on and off duty, according to LaDoucer.
“AAA has been instrumental in the passage of Move Over laws across the country to protect first responders, law enforcement officers, tow truck operators and highway workers,” LaDoucer said. “We would also like to see those same protections extended to motorists with disabled vehicles to save lives on our roadways.”