Late last month a tow truck driver was pulled over to the side of the road to help a broken down vehicle when another vehicle was passing in the right lane and struck the driver. Unfortunately this type of New Haven auto accident is common throughout the state and presents an opportunity to remind you about the “move over” law that is in effect in the state.
When you are driving down the highway and you see someone pulled over to the side of the road the “move over” law requires that you slow down and transition safely to the next lane over so you can give the person who is broken down on the side of the road space to take care of the broken down vehicle in a safe and secure way.
The law, which was enacted in 2009, was aimed at protecting first responders and tow truck drivers. Laws similar to this one began being passed in 1996 throughout the United States. Connecticut amended the law in 2017 to include good Samaritans (non-emergency responders) who are working to help someone in a broken down vehicle or who is otherwise in need.
If you fail to follow the law and move over in a timely manner when approaching a vehicle that is broken down on the side of the road you can be held accountable under the law. The penalties vary based on how bad the accident is, but if you are involved in a situation where you have caused injury or worse yet, death, to someone, you could be facing up to $10,000 in fines and the possibility of jail time. The person who was struck or their family member may also file a civil lawsuit against you.
To make sure you are following this law as it is intended you should do (or not do) the following things while driving on the highway;
1.) Keep two hands on the wheel at all times. This may seem like common sense, but many drivers often get lazy and only keep one hand on the wheel at a time and some even remove their hands all together and let the car “self-drive” which is extremely dangerous. Whether there is a circumstance where you are approaching a vehicle that is broken down on the side of the road or not, you should always keep both your hands on the wheel at all times.
2.) Avoid distractions. This is a good rule of thumb no matter the circumstance as well, but if you are on the road and you see a broken down vehicle you should always keep both eyes on the road while you approach. Even a split second looking down at your phone or to change the volume on the radio could lead to devastating consequences and put yourself and the people who are on the side of the road at risk.
3.) Slow down. While the law is called the “move over” law, it is also required that you slow down as you pass a broken down vehicle. This is in the best interest of the people on the side of the road and it’s also in your best interest. Excessive speeding is one of the biggest culprits in fatalities in the state of Connecticut and in particular, as you’re passing on a busy road, speeding can kill.
It is important that while these types of accidents in the news are good reminders of the “move over” law you should always be keeping this law in mind as you travel across the state and making sure that you follow this law to avoid a New Haven auto accident in the first place. Accidents happen, but if you follow the steps above and obey the “move over” law there is a greater chance that you will keep yourself and others safe as you drive.
Whether an accident happens with a vehicle that is on the side of the road or not, injuries often occur and you may need an experienced attorney to speak with you about your situation. If you do, contact our office and one of our attorneys will work with you to protect your long-term interests.