CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina's Move Over Law is broader, and that's good news to the people who work on the state's roads in vehicles with amber lights.
A new version of the law, adopted in June by the General Assembly, now requires motorists to change lanes or slow down as they approach utility and maintenance crews – or other vehicles, including tow trucks – with flashing amber lights. The new law went into effect Monday.
The original law, passed 11 years ago, included police, fire and emergency medical services, and the Incident Management Assistance Patrol vehicles operated by the state transportation department. It was enacted in North Carolina after a rash of incidents in which motorists crashed into vehicles whose blue lights were flashing.
The law hasn't stopped such incidents. A driver plowed into the rear of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg patrol car early Saturday on Interstate 85, injuring the officer. But supporters of the law say it has made the roads safer for law enforcement and other emergency responders, and now they hope to do the same for construction crews, surveyors and tow truck drivers.
“It will be welcome,” says Tom Emch, owner of Matthews Towing and Automotive. “It gets close out there sometimes.”
Emch said one of the company's trucks was damaged by a passing motorist last week. “We always have our guys work from the right side of their trucks, just to be safe,” Emch said. “I'm glad to see the rule changed.”
The law requires motorists to move over at least one lane – when two or more lanes are available in each direction. On roads with only one traffic lane in each direction, motorists must slow down and be prepared to stop. That is the case even if the vehicle with amber lights is on the shoulder.
Violating the law carries a fine of $250, plus court costs.
Move Over laws also exist in South Carolina and all other states in the Southeast.