If you live and drive in South Carolina, you might have already broken a law you never knew existed. Passed in 2002, the “move over” law aimed at workers attending to roadside breakdowns and accidents does not seem to be as effective as lawmakers and safety advocates had once hoped.
This may be in part because many South Carolina residents are unfamiliar with the law are unsure how to respond when approaching tow trucks and emergency vehicles stopped on the road. Their failure to slow or move over can cost roadside workers their lives.
In 2016, more than 70 emergency personnel were hit when they were working on the side of the road. In 2017, a South Carolina trooper was parked along Interstate 385 when he was hit and killed by a truck.
A Closer Look at the Move Over Law
In this country, every state has some version of a move over law requiring drivers to either move over one lane or reduce their speed by at least five miles per hour if another lane is not available when approaching tow trucks or emergency vehicles. Yet many police officers and other roadside workers say this does not always happen – possibly because drivers simply do not know the move over law exists.
Penalties are one way to get drivers’ attention. Drivers who violate the move over law in South Carolina potentially face a misdemeanor charge and fines between $300 and $500. While such consequences would seem to be a reasonable deterrent, logistics often make it difficult for officers to enforce the law.
Officers who are responding to a wreck or have a car already pulled over cannot just leave the scene to issue a citation to another driver speeding by. Since 2013, less than 100 citations have been issued in South Carolina’s most heavily-populated county, Greenville County. That amounts to around one citation every three weeks.
Distracted Drivers and the Move Over Law
Once drivers know and understand the move over law, they are more likely to comply. But drivers who are looking at their phone, the radio, or the person in the back seat do not have the chance to move over until it is too late. Roadside workers count on passing drivers to pay attention, slow down, and avoid them.
Yet, with the advent of mobile phones, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of serious and fatal car accidents. This dangerous behavior accounts for one-quarter of all car accident fatalities in the United States every year. Tragically, workers who assist others on the side of the road are often the most vulnerable victims.
When looking for way to combat the injuries and deaths of roadside workers, safety experts believe that a comprehensive effort involving public awareness, enforcement of the move over law, and driver education may be the answer.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Victims of Roadside Car Accidents
A serious car accident can be traumatic. Not only do victims have to endure the physical pain, they also face medical expenses and lost work days as a result of their injuries. But help is available. At the law firm Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we fight tirelessly for our clients’ rights to justice and financial recovery.
Your partnership with a trusted Columbia car accident lawyer begins with a free case consultation. To schedule yours today, call (803) 929-3600 or contact us online. With six offices throughout South Carolina, you are guaranteed to find a location that is convenient for you.
We represent injured accident victims in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.