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Philly's Move Over Law & Stopped/Disabled Vehicle Crashes

Warning triangle set up near the motorway

A Philadelphia car accident attorney reveals what you should know

Hundreds of people die and thousands more are injured every year in U.S. car accidents with disabled or stopped vehicles pulled over on the side of the road.

Oftentimes, the driver in the other car doesn't see the stopped vehicle until it's far too late to avoid a collision, according to a new Impact Research study. More than half of the deaths reviewed and about 20% of injuries occurred when a pedestrian was leaving, working on, or returning to a stopped vehicle.

Pennsylvania gets this.

In April 2021, our state put into effect a new "Move Over Law." It's an update to the "Steer Clear Law," and the new statute aims to protect first responders on the side of the road after a severe car accident or when attending to a stopped vehicle. The protection, however, will extend to everyone.

Pennsylvania—and Philadelphia in particular—has a pedestrian vs. car accident problem. Philly's rate of pedestrian fatalities is up 88% over last year, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Nationwide, an average of 566 people are killed and more than 14,000 people are injured each year in roadside crashes. This type of information is not readily available at the state level, so it's hard to quantify the problem, locally. What we do know is that pedestrians made up more than 50% of all traffic fatalities in 2019.

Move Over Philadelphia

It's too early to tell how effective the Move Over Law is. The law says Pennsylvania drivers have to move over into the left lane, or as much as is possible, or slow down when they see emergency flashing lights. If it is not possible to move over, then a vehicle has to slow down to 20 mph under the speed limit.

Drivers must do this when they see other vehicles with warning lights, like tow trucks, and cars with their hazard lights on.

Penalties for violating the Move Over statute include fines of:

  • First offense: $500
  • Second offense: $1,000
  • Third and subsequent offenses: $2,000, 90-day license suspension
  • A violation that causes bodily harm: Up to $10,000, license suspension

The law also doubles fines for other traffic violations that occur in an emergency response area when people are present.

Stopped-Vehicle Safety Tips

When you have to stop on the side of the road, there is a way to do it that's aimed at decreasing your risk of getting hit by a car.

AAA has some tips:

Note your location

Often, you get a short heads-up before your car completely breaks down on the side of the road. If you are looking for a place to pull to the side, make note of the street names, mile markers, and landmarks. This will help emergency responders find you.

Activate your vehicle's hazard lights

Put your hazard lights on and move as far to the right as possible. No hazards? If your hazard lights aren't working, pop your hood open and tie a bright-colored piece of clothing to your car's antenna to signal distress.

Stay in the car

If you are unable to pull over to the side of the road or otherwise get to a safe place, stay in your vehicle. Do not get out and try to push the vehicle to a safer location. Do not try to run across lanes of traffic. Especially on the highway, it is very difficult to accurately judge how fast a vehicle is moving.

If possible, get to a safe location

If it is safe to do so, get out of your vehicle and walk somewhere that puts a lot of distance between you, traffic, and your vehicle.

Do not stand in front or behind your car

You don't want your vehicle pushed into or over you if another car hits it.

Call for help

Car services, family, friends, towing companies, or the police may be able to help you out when your vehicle is disabled on the side of the road.

Legal help is available for crash victims

The Hanamirian Firm has been fighting for the rights of Pennsylvania accident victims since the 1980s. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to fight for the compensation you need and deserve.

We offer free case reviews to accident victims and their families. If you were injured in a bad car accident in the Greater Philadelphia region, we can let you know how the law applies to your situation and your legal options. There is no obligation to hire, and we work cases on contingency. That means you pay nothing unless we win your case.

Take control and contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer. Our law firm has offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Conshohocken.

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