December 22, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- North Carolina's "move over" law, the statute that dictates that cars passing by a stopped official vehicle on the side of the road give a wide berth, just got tougher. Found in Section 20-157 of North Carolina's general statutes, the move over law has been in effect for years, and commands drivers traveling by emergency service vehicles (police cars, ambulances and fire trucks) with blue lights flashing to shift at least one lane to the left (or to the right, if the stopped vehicle is in the left-hand lane or in a center median) in order to provide safe clearance. It is credited with saving the lives of many emergency workers and preventing countless more from being injured.
For all the good that it did, though, the move over law
wasn't providing adequate protection for the many workers performing job duties alongside North Carolina's roads who aren't employed by a law enforcement or emergency management agency.
Hopefully, that will change now that the law has been broadened to extend beyond so-called "blue light" vehicles to include a wide array of civilian vehicles providing necessary services, including tow trucks, utility vehicles, locksmiths, construction crews and surveyors in "amber light" vehicles (those with flashing yellow/orange lights). Not only will the expansion of the law to include civilian vehicles likely save lives, all the attention garnered by the tougher provisions of the new law have shined a spotlight on the issue of drivers striking vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Neither the old law nor the new one is a perfect fix, unfortunately. It does provide a penalty for drivers who fail to move over in the form of a fine of $250 (which doubles to $500 if the stopped vehicle was struck and either property damage or injury occurred), but it cannot actually prevent a distracted or careless driver
from striking a stopped vehicle.
In fact, in early December 2012, a state trooper suffered critical injuries when her stopped patrol car - with lights flashing and siren activated - was struck by a semi-truck on the shoulder of Interstate 85 just outside of Durham. A similar accident injured a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer back in September, but safety advocates are still hopeful that the newly expanded law will help make the state's roads safer.
Regardless of whether you are a law enforcement official, utility worker, tow truck driver or construction worker, if you have been struck by a vehicle while performing job duties along a North Carolina road, you have rights. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about those legal rights and options you may have to hold the parties responsible for your injuries accountable.
Article provided by Riddle & Brantley, LLP
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