MDOT SHA LogoMotorists Reminded of the New Move Over Law and Urged to Slow Down When Approaching Traffic Incidents or Disabled Vehicles (November 14, 2022) – Governor Larry Hogan has declared November 14-18 as Crash Responder Safety Week in Maryland, issuing a proclamation in support of a national effort to raise awareness of the critical role motorists play in keeping first responders safe as they perform their duties on our highways. “The men and women who respond to thousands of crashes and disabled vehicles each year on our roadways serve the public and save lives,” Governor Hogan said. “They deserve our thanks, our respect and, most importantly, our assistance to keep them safe as they perform their duties.” As part of the observance, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), MDTA Police and the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Maryland Highway Safety Office are reminding motorists to stay alert, move over and slow down when approaching traffic incidents and first responders. “Maryland’s responders are our friends and neighbors, and the people they’re helping are wives, husbands, sons and daughters,” MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr., said. “The highway is their office. We all need to obey the rules of the road to ensure these frontline heroes return home safe and sound every day.” According to the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office, first responders and highway workers responded to 108,656 crashes on Maryland roadways in 2021, along with thousands of other incidents such as disabled vehicles and roadway hazards. MDOT SHA first responders assist a motorist or manage a traffic incident an average of once every nine minutes, and it’s estimated their presence at crash scenes prevents 225 to 250 secondary incidents each year. Since 2019, there have been 39 crashes at sites where MDOT SHA first responders were tending to traffic incidents, including six crashes so far this year. Nationally, an average of 23 highway workers and one law enforcement officer are killed each month while performing their duties at a crash scene or roadway incident. In addition, one tow truck driver is killed alongside a roadway every six days, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). “Our Emergency Traffic Patrols team keeps watch over more 18,000 lane miles of roadways in Maryland 24/7, and they are often the first to arrive at crash scenes to assist motorists and help restore traffic flow as safely and quickly as possible,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “We need every motorist to do their part to protect these men and women and give them a safe space to do their jobs by slowing down, moving over and staying alert when approaching traffic incidents.” Crash Responder Safety Week is designed to help educate the public on the importance of driving safely when approaching a crash or other roadside incident. To commemorate the week, MDOT SHA, the MDTA and the Highway Safety Office are coordinating several Move Over initiatives including a Be the MOVE OVER driver media campaign, utilizing social media, providing media interviews and posting messages on overhead highway signs throughout the state. In addition, MDTA Police and other law enforcement agencies will conduct high visibility enforcement initiatives. “Every day, crash responders take tremendous risks to ensure our safety. But at the end of their shift, they want to get home safely, just like the rest of us,” said MDTA Chief Operating Officer Joseph Sagal. “Please respect the safety of our first responders, always use caution when approaching a crash scene, and MOVE OVER for any stopped vehicle with caution signals or warning lights.” The Highway Safety Office’s Be the MOVE OVER driver campaign – aimed at helping drivers make the right decisions behind the wheel, includes messages on billboards, transit buses and social media. Drivers are urged to comply with Maryland’s Move Over law, which requires motorists to make a lane change or slow down when approaching any stopped, standing or parked vehicle displaying warning signals, including vehicles driven by highway first responders. Violating the law is a misdemeanor carrying a $110 fine and one point on the violator’s driving license. If the violation causes a crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If there is a death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points. “If you have ever been stranded roadside, you know the experience can be both frustrating and scary. Our roadside heroes dedicate each and every day to help stranded motorists return to the road as quickly and safely as possible,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We urge all drivers to move over and slow down for any vehicle on the shoulder and approach traffic incidents with caution. Each of us has a responsibility to practice safe driving skills and ensure every person who uses Maryland roads gets to their destination safely.” Drivers are reminded that if they are in a crash involving property damage but no injuries, they should move out of the travel lanes and, preferably, to a protected area such as a parking lot to exchange information. The side of the road is a very dangerous place. For tips to stay safe during a roadside emergency, go to ZeroDeathsMD.gov/RoadsideSafety.