Move Over Or Slow Down — the wording is important

Around the USA, most states have legislation for which the name is typically shortened to the ‘Move Over Law,’ but some states then go on to give bad advice that is potentially unsafe.

An almost perfect sign in New York State. The safest advice is ‘Move Over or Slow Down.’ See the article for a full explanation. (Copyright image, 2019.)

For example “slow down and move over” is inviting extra danger yet some states do use that wording in their advice.

Anytime a driver has to change lanes on a multi-lane highway, it is naturally important to ensure there are no faster-moving vehicles catching up in the lane you wish to move into. In that one sentence is found the logic behind the correct wording for this scenario.

If a driver slows down and then tries to change lanes, it is quite possible they will have created an unsafe situation in relation to vehicles catching up from behind. If a lane-change is necessary, as it is under the Move Over laws, then if it is safely possible it is wise to maintain speed and then do a safe lane change.

So the safest advice is:  Move Over OR Slow Down

If it is not safe or possible to make a lane-change then it is imperative for drivers in the lane nearest the static vehicle/s to slow down significantly. Some states, for example, require that under these circumstances a vehicle must be doing at least 20mph below the posted speed limit when it passes the static vehicle/s, but this varies and you should check what the law says in your state.

A state police trooper emerging from his unmarked SUV to deal with a speeder he had just stopped. Clearly, the officer is at significant risk from drivers who pay no attention and fail to comply with the ‘Move Over or Slow Down laws’. (Copyright image, 2019.)

This, too, requires care because of any vehicles in the same lane, behind yours. If you brake quickly then you might trigger being hit from behind. This is why it is so important to always leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle ahead. In turn, this makes it easier for you to see further ahead, see the static vehicle/s sooner, and plan your own actions sooner, without rush or panic.

Any emergency, recovery, or road maintenance vehicle with its lights flashing must be treated in this manner, but a good driver will do the same for any static vehicle, such as a broken down car.

One of the most dangerous scenarios when passing static vehicles.   (Copyright photo, 2014.)

So please remember, unless circumstances genuinely prevent it, the safest sequence is:

  • Make sure you maintain a good view ahead at all times by always maintaining a safe following distance;
  • Whenever you see a static vehicle, check immediately to see whether the adjacent lane is clear, then signal when it is safe to do so, in that order (so that you don’t frighten another driver potentially into swerving away from you);
  • Change lanes when safe to do so, preferably without slowing down first and thereby increasing danger from behind;
  • If you cannot safely change lanes to put an empty lane between your car and the static vehicle/s then you must slow down as described above.
  • Watch very carefully indeed for any pedestrian activity near the static vehicle/s because there are occasions when someone might unexpectedly step into what is now hopefully the empty lane, and it is our responsibility as drivers to keep those people as safe as we possibly can;
  • Be particularly careful in the dark or during bad weather when visibility or tire-grip might be affected.
A state trooper almost invisible on the roadside as he conducts a traffic stop at night.
At night or in bad weather, the ‘move over law’ is even more critical, when officers or vehicle operators can be extremely difficult to see, especially when the flashing lights are so bright that they dazzle! Move over safely and in plenty of time, before you get anywhere near. (Copyright image, 2017.)

On roads with only one lane in each direction, the normal ‘move over’ component is often not possible but if there is a good, safe view ahead and it is legal to do so, a good driver will create space by at least partially crossing the central, dotted yellow line to keep away from a static emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. Whether or not that can be done, it is more than ever essential to slow down significantly under these circumstances.

At Advanced Drivers of North America, the ‘Move Over Laws’ and ‘Safe Following Distances’ are just two of over 300 important safety techniques we teach on our unmatched defensive- and advanced-driving courses. For more information, please Contact Us.

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Don’t Turn the Door Mirrors Outwards. It Causes Far More Danger than it Cures!

Back in 2003, I first wrote the article Setting a Driver’s Mirrors for Maximum Safety, for the not-for-profit organization, Drive and Stay Alive, then we updated it in 2017 and reposted it here on the ADoNA website.

This is the view through the passenger-side door mirror and the red text speaks for itself, as one of the ten reasons mentioned in the paragraph below. (Copyright image, 2019.)
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As a Driver, Protect Your View and Maintain Your Conspicuity!

Even in normal weather, it is possible for vehicles to become harder to see if they pass from sunlight to shade, or pass through a cloud of smoke or dust. And in low light, or in high-contrast lighting, things can quickly get more extreme.

Continue reading “As a Driver, Protect Your View and Maintain Your Conspicuity!”

The Latest Cars can NOT Drive Themselves!

If you are feeling drowsy, please don’t trust your car’s gadgets. They are nowhere close to that extent of trust yet…

Overestimating what your latest car can do is a terrifyingly good way to kill yourself or somebody else.

Even driving with one hand off the wheel increases reaction time and reduces a driver’s ability to respond to a sudden crisis such as a front tire blowout, but this driver was way down the ladder from that! (Copyright image, 2019.)
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USA: Buses Letting People Get Off Into Danger

Would YOU, as a driver, unfailingly be expecting people to get off the blue bus in these photos, into the right-hand lane in front of you?

A few days ago, while we were running an advanced driving course in Albany, NY, we saw a bus stop in the second lane from the curb to let people get off, and it was horrifying to watch. Fortunately, no vehicles came.

This is where the CDTA bus stopped — you can clearly see the edge of the open door. The asphalt between it and the curb appears to be a regular lane, for traffic going straight ahead or turning right, and on other occasions we have certainly seen it used in that way. See the continuing sequence of photographs below. (Copyright image, 2019.)
Continue reading “USA: Buses Letting People Get Off Into Danger”

Drivers in Pick-up Trucks or SUVs are More Likely to Kill Pedestrians

There’s a new report out from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association [GHSA] regarding major increases in the numbers of pedestrians being killed on the roads of the USA, and one of the reasons given for this very regrettable situation is the involvement of pick-up trucks and SUVs.

The high, solid fronts of pick-up trucks and SUVs cause devastating and often fatal injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. By comparison, cars — with their sloping hoods and increased engineering to be safer in collisions with vulnerable road users — are much less likely to kill. (Copyright image, 2017.)

Continue reading “Drivers in Pick-up Trucks or SUVs are More Likely to Kill Pedestrians”

It is ‘Move Over OR Slow Down’ for Static Emergency Vehicles

On October 22, 2018, New York State Department of Transportation [#NYSDOT],  in a Facebook post, became yet another major body to publish a description of the ‘Move Over Law’ that can be seen as being too confusing.

Photo of a driver failing to move over, away from workers, even though it would have been easy to do so
A driver failing to move over, away from workers, even though it would have been easy to do so.  (Copyright photograph.)

Continue reading “It is ‘Move Over OR Slow Down’ for Static Emergency Vehicles”

Tailgating Doesn’t Apply to ME Because I’m a Good Driver!

Many drivers tailgate in an extreme way and the vast majority of them believe that they are a “good driver” and they have got “good reactions” so they can handle it if things go wrong, but sadly this is simply not true.  This article is the “here’s why!

Heavy traffic on I-90 at Chicago.
Some serious tailgating (in relation to the speed) in the right hand lane of I-90 at Chicago. It only needs two vehicles to bump and the traffic tailback that can result while the driving lanes are cleared, especially if someone is hurt, will delay thousands of people for a significant time. (Copyright image, 2012.)

Continue reading “Tailgating Doesn’t Apply to ME Because I’m a Good Driver!”

Cruise Control is More Important and More Useful than Most Drivers Realize

What could any experienced driver possibly need to learn about cruise control?  You would be surprised!  Most drivers who attend our courses don’t know all of its benefits, or more importantly all of its possible risks.

The switches for cruise control can look different from one automaker to another but they all cover the same functions. (Copyright image, 2018.)

Continue reading “Cruise Control is More Important and More Useful than Most Drivers Realize”

Photo Tip: Don’t Block Crosswalks at Red Lights

Thoughtless, illegal and dangerous….

The driver of this pick-up truck has stopped way past the Stop line at a red light and, in doing so, has completely and unacceptably blocked the crosswalk. (Copyright image.)

This photograph was submitted to us this morning (together with permission to use it), from New York State, and it shows a pick-up that has stopped in a very bad position at a red light.

We all need to remember that apart from it being illegal to stop *after* the Stop line, it can cause particular danger if the crosswalk is obstructed as a result, as is the case here.

If a pedestrian needs to cross and walks behind the pick-up truck, they will be hidden from the view of any driver that is turning in to this leg of the intersection, and the potential disaster becomes obvious.

Always stop before crossing the Stop line!