Most drivers know that when they approach a road construction area where workers are present or an emergency situation where first responders are working, they need to slow down and be extremely cautious. That’s covered under Virginia’s “Move Over” law.
Beginning this July, that law was expanded to include any vehicle that has its hazard lights on or some other indication of a disabled vehicle or emergency situation such as road flares. This includes personal vehicles that are stopped on or near the road.
Drivers (and those helping them) are vulnerable to serious injury or worse
Safety advocates say that the change in the law was needed to help protect people who have to stop. Too often, they’re struck and killed by drivers who were going too fast to avoid them and/or were driving on the shoulder. A spokesperson for AAA says that “every year, between 300-350 people are killed inside, around, or getting back into a disabled vehicle on the side of the roadway.”
Among those who advocated for the change in the law were surviving relatives of a woman killed just over a year ago after her car broke down when she was driving on Interstate 95 in Hanover County. Even though she had her hazard lights on, a driver slammed into her. The man, who was reportedly speeding and driving erratically at the time of the crash, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and for driving with a suspended license.
Law enforcement officers, tow truck drivers and first responders who often pull up alongside vehicles on the side of the road when there’s been a breakdown or flat tire or the driver has suffered a medical emergency are often the victims of these crashes as well. For those standing outside of vehicles, the chances of a fatality increase.
The expansion of the Move Over law to include anyone who’s pulled over with hazard lights or similar emergency indicators and the media attention surrounding it will likely cause more drivers to be careful. However, some drivers are still going to be negligent or reckless. If you or a loved one has been injured in one of these preventable collisions, you can and should explore your options for seeking justice and compensation.