The Move Over law mandates that on multi-lane roads motorists drive with care, slow down, and safely move over one lane, if possible, when approaching vehicles stopped along road displaying red, white, blue, amber or green lights. This includes, but is not limited to law enforcement vehicles, firetrucks, ambulances, tow trucks, construction and maintenance vehicles, and even volunteer ambulance workers and firefighters.
Motorists caught violating the Move Over law could face getting two points on their license and a minimum $150 fine for the first offense.
Construction and maintenance crews across the state work alongside fast-moving traffic each day and moving over can literally mean the difference between their life and death. In March 2019 alone, several move over violations resulted in crashes, one with deadly consequences.
On March 13, 2019, a DOT highway maintenance worker was struck and killed in a work zone along Route 17 in Tioga County. The highway maintenance worker was struck by a distracted tractor trailer driver who ignored work zone warnings and failed to move over.
On March 26, 2019, four Thruway Authority highway maintenance workers were injured when a distracted tractor trailer driver entered a marked work zone and struck two Thruway vehicles.
Also in March, two New York State Troopers escaped serious injuries in separate crashes on the Thruway, which involved drivers who failed to move over.
It is important for motorists to be patient when encountering flaggers, and to remember that flagging personnel are not attempting to disrupt traffic – they are simply doing their jobs and want to get home safely at the end of each work day
Standing at the edge of a work zone flagging traffic to slow down or stop is a uniquely vulnerable position, and personnel are often harassed by motorists and in some cases are hit – purposely or by accident – by vehicles traveling through the work zone.
New York State works continually to improve safety and best practices within highway work zones. Safety measures include reducing speed limits in work zones and performing highway work at off-peak hours, when traffic is at a minimum. Others include flagging operations and the use of concrete barriers, bright orange cones and barrels to separate traffic from work space, highly reflective sheeting on orange work zone signs and rumble strips to alert motorists to road conditions.
Technology is also used to enable motorists to avoid work zones by taking alternate routes, including electronic highway message signs that give advanced warning of work zones, highway advisory radio frequencies that broadcast work zone information, and 511ny.org, which provides real-time information on traffic conditions and construction zones.
In New York State, fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver license.
The State’s budget provides the Department of Transportation with up to $5 million annually to be used for traffic maintenance and traffic protection services provided by the State Police. The funding subsidizes a Traffic Incident Management (TIM) unit that has been an effective tool in enforcing speed limits and reducing the incidence of crashes in and around work zones. Police in this unit are specifically trained in work zone safety enforcement, as well as other important traffic issues, including the quick clearance of roads after major traffic incidents, commercial vehicle enforcement, and targeted enforcement of speeding, aggressive driving and impaired driving.
Traffic incident management is the process of coordinating the resources of a number of different partner agencies and private sector companies to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents as quickly as possible to reduce the impacts of incidents on safety and congestion, while protecting the safety of on-scene responders and the traveling public.
When a crash occurs, congestion quickly builds up and chances of a secondary incident increase. The sooner incidents are cleared, the sooner traffic lanes can re-open and traffic can return to normal conditions.
TIM units also can be assigned to monitor work zones and to catch motorists violating traffic laws, in order to keep both workers and the traveling public safe