​(November 9, 2020) – In support of Governor Larry Hogan declaring November 9-15 as National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week in Maryland, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), together with the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), MDTA Police and the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Maryland Highway Safety Office, are joining with partners statewide to recognize this observance and remind motorists to slow down and move over when passing traffic incidents and first responders.   

“Our men and women work tirelessly 24/7 to courageously help save lives at traffic incident scenes and to clear these events so traffic flow is restored as safely and quickly as possible,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “We need motorists to do their part to protect responders by slowing down, moving over and staying alert when approaching traffic incidents.”

Maryland’s Move Over law requires motorists to move over when approaching emergency, law enforcement, tow truck or transportation vehicles when they are stopped, standing or parked on a highway with their red, amber or yellow lights flashing. If it is not safe or feasible to move over, motorists must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed safe for existing weather, road and vehicular or pedestrian safety conditions.   

According to MHSO, first responders and highway workers responded to 115,916 reportable crashes on Maryland roadways in 2019, in addition to thousands of other traffic incidents such as disabled vehicles and roadway hazards. Since 2016, there have been 117 crashes at sites where MDOT SHA first responders were tending to traffic incidents, include 12 so far this year. According to the American Automobile Association, in the United States one tow truck driver is killed alongside the road every six days. In addition, 23 highway workers and one law enforcement officer are killed each month while performing their duties on U.S. roadways.   

“Emergency responders are on our highways to serve the public and keep us all safe,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “These dedicated men and women deserve our attention and our appreciation, and they deserve to go home to their families safe and sound after performing these critical duties.”   

To commemorate National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week and provide outreach and education to team members and customers, MDOT SHA and the MDTA are coordinating Move Over/Slow Down enforcement initiatives with several law enforcement agencies. Agencies will also conduct a social media education campaign, provide media interviews upon request, post information on overhead message signs throughout the state, conduct traffic incident management training classes. MDOT SHA and the MDTA will also join the Baltimore Metropolitan Council in hosting the Baltimore Region Virtual Traffic Incident Management Conference on November 10.    

“This week is a powerful reminder of the dangerous work our first responders and highway workers skillfully perform every day,” said MDTA Police Chief Colonel Kevin M. Anderson. “It’s up to all of us to help keep these men and women safe while they’re assisting motorists with disabled vehicles, rendering first aid and investigating crashes.”   

“Emergency responders and roadside service workers are often in vulnerable situations on our roadways as they assist the traveling public, so it is critical that you give driving your full attention,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “When you are approaching flashing lights please move over or slow down.”

Editor’s Note

From intersection improvements to widening and new interchange construction, MDOT SHA is investing in projects to enhance the commute and daily travel for millions of Marylanders.  MDOT SHA maintains more than 2,500 bridges and 17,000 miles of non-toll state roads – the interstate, US and state numbered routes in Maryland’s 23 counties.