How is the Move Over Law Enforced in Missouri?

On Missouri’s highways, emergency responders must be able to complete their jobs, assess injuries, and save crash victims’ lives. These men and women risk getting into an accident with other cars when they arrive at the crash scene.

An AAA study states that passing cars kill 24 emergency responders and tow truck workers responding at the roadside annually. In 2021, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that 3 people died and 51 people sustained injuries in 246 traffic accidents involving parked emergency vehicles.

The Move Over Law in Missouri ensures the safety of emergency responders performing their duties. No matter where drivers are driving in Missouri, it is essential that they understand how the Move Over Law can impact their safety and that of emergency responders.

What is Missouri’s Move Over Law?

According to Missouri’s Move Over Law, drivers must do one of the following when approaching stationary vehicles showing flashing red, blue, amber, and white lights:

  • Merge into another lane safely if traveling in the same direction as the emergency vehicle
  • Slow down and reduce their cars’ speed if changing lanes is hazardous or impossible

What Is Considered an Emergency Vehicle in Missouri?

Missouri’s Move Over Law requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching stopped emergency vehicles equipped with emergency flashing lights. Emergency vehicles include:

  • Fire trucks
  • Towing services
  • Utility vehicles
  • Ambulances, including emergency ambulances transporting organs
  • Hazardous cleanup vehicles
  • Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles
  • State, county, and local law enforcement cars

Penalties for Not Following the Move Over Law

Drivers who violate Missouri’s move over law may face class A misdemeanors. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor involve:

  • Prison sentence of up to 1 year
  • A maximum fine of $2,000

How Missouri’s Move Over Law Prevents Car Accidents

Emergency vehicles may stop at the shoulder of a highway or the adjacent lane next to an accident. Their location on the road can increase the risk of an accident with a car. The Move Over law helps to reduce the following accidents:

Rear-End Collisions

A driver might fail to pay attention and reduce their speed when an emergency vehicle slows to stop at the shoulder. Also, in case of sudden emergency vehicle braking, the driver might not brake on time if they don’t maintain enough space between their car and the emergency vehicle in front of them.

Side-Swipe Accidents

In a sideswipe accident, a car strikes the side of an emergency vehicle when it is traveling parallel to it. As a result, one or both vehicles may lose control and careen to other lanes, hitting other cars.

Blind-Spot Crashes

Drivers must check their blind spots before they change lanes. However, if the driver does not check their side mirrors and fails to recognize an oncoming emergency vehicle, they risk getting into an accident with it.

The Move Over Law prevents drivers from getting into dangerous collisions with stopped emergency vehicles responding to an accident. This allows emergency responders to work while having a buffer between themselves and other cars.

Tips for Driving Safely Near Emergency Vehicles

You should obey the Move Over Law to ensure the safety of first responders. Additionally, you can take the following steps to prevent injury to emergency responders:

Avoid Distractions

Maintain your focus on the road by not talking on the phone, texting, or adjusting the radio. Whenever you are on a highway, listen for emergency sirens and look for flashing lights, especially when there are a lot of cars and other obstructions that block your view of traffic. 

Obey the Speed Limits

Over the past two decades, speeding has contributed to one-third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. As you approach emergency vehicles, reduce your speed to accommodate emergency workers and give them space to complete their jobs.

Pay Attention to Emergency Vehicles

Watch for accidents with stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and utility service vehicles. Obey any directions police officers give at an accident site and merge into another lane if you see a severe accident ahead and emergency vehicles are nearby.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer After an Accident with an Emergency Vehicle

When you follow Missouri’s Move Over Law, you protect emergency responders and improve highway safety for all drivers. However, if you get into an accident with an emergency vehicle, you can work with our St. Louis car accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley.

Explore your legal options and determine how much you deserve for your suffering and medical expenses with our legal guidance. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help you after your car accident.