Move Over for Emergency Vehicles, Even on City Streets

NBC 7 Responds looked at a new law that took effect this month.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Many drivers are used to moving over for emergency vehicles, a law to help save lies that applied to freeways for years and now applies to city streets as well.

"It's a very dangerous environment," said CalTrans spokesman Gerard Chadergian. "Knowing that many times you're only separated by a plastic cone, it doesn't give that feeling of security.

That's why the law has been expanded to include all roadways, not just highways.

"Now when you see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing, you need to vacate that lane or slow down to a reasonable speed," said the Auto Club of Southern California's Doug Shupe.

Shupe said that most people incorrectly assume the law only applies to law enforcement or medical personal.

"[It could be] a police car, a fire truck, an ambulance, CalTrans vehicle or a tow truck," Shupe said. "It's incredible when you see how close drivers come to the tow truck operators who are trying to help stranded motorists."

That's one reason why the law has been expanded. In 2006 the law began protecting emergency personnel on freeways, but now it applies to all roads.

"It makes sense because we never know where an emergency is going to happen," Shupe said.

In 2019 more than 40 emergency responders were killed along roads, Shupe said, not counting maintenance or construction workers.

"It's nerve-racking to have people traveling by you at such high speeds," Chadergian said.

Drivers who can see emergency vehicles or flashing lights on the side of the road must move over or slow down. Shupe said that most people aren't aware the law exists.

"All 50 states have a move-over-or-slow-down law," Shupe said. "Only 30% of drivers know that the law exists."

Crivers who don't not move over or slow down can be given a $238 ticket and get a point on their driving record. Shupe said that could impact your car insurance rates.

"If you see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing, start thinking about how you can either safely vacate that lane or slow down," Shupe said. "This law aims to protect emergency responders, not just on the freeway, but on any road in our state."

Contact Us