There are hundreds of state and federal roadway laws in place to help prevent traffic accidents. As a motor vehicle driver in Texas, it is your responsibility to know and obey all of the laws that apply to you. In Texas, this includes the Move Over or Slow Down Law. This is a law in place in many states to help protect roadside workers and emergency personnel.

What Is Texas’ Move Over Law?

The highway is a complex network of lanes, where every user must pay attention and obey the rules to avoid accidents. There are lots of moving pieces on highways in Texas, including the occasional roadside construction zone and pulled-over vehicles. Like many states, Texas has specific laws that protect roadside workers: the Move Over or Slow Down Law.

As the name implies, Texas’ Move Over Law requires drivers to move over – or slow down, if moving over is not prudent or possible – when approaching certain vehicles that are on the side of the road. The law states that all drivers must move over a lane (in a direction that takes them further away from the stopped vehicle) or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit when passing the following stopped vehicles:

  • Emergency vehicles or crews
  • Police and law enforcement vehicles
  • Firetrucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Utility service vehicles
  • Vehicles used by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
  • Highway construction vehicles
  • Highway maintenance vehicles
  • Other work crews

The Move Over or Slow Down Law applies if the vehicle that is on the side of the road has its flashing lights or other visual signals activated. Upon seeing one of these stopped vehicles, a driver should gently apply the brakes, look to see if it is safe to move a lane over, and switch lanes if and when it is safe to do so. If the driver cannot safely move over, he or she must slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit. If the posted speed limit on the road is 25 miles per hour or less, the driver must reduce his or her speed to 5 miles per hour.

Changes to the Move Over/Slow Down Law in 2019

As of September 1, 2019, Texas’ Move Over or Slow Down Law was updated to include other utility vehicles, such as utility trucks that are used by the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC), to repair power lines during outages. This change was made in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which required extensive repairs to the statewide electric grid system. The last update before this was made in 2013, when the law was modified to include TxDOT vehicles.

What Are the Penalties for Breaking the Move Over Law?

Failing to obey Texas’s Move Over Law is a dangerous act that can put emergency and work crews at risk of serious and deadly injuries. This infraction is punishable by a fine of up to $200 per offense in Texas, or $500 if it causes property damage. This fine can increase to up to $2,000, however, if the failure to move over results in a crash that injures a worker. Injuring someone by not moving over is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas that can result in jail time. The Texas Department of Public Safety ramps up its enforcement of the Move Over Law in the summer months, when there are a higher number of construction projects.

What to Do After an Accident From Someone Not Moving Over

If you get struck by a driver who did not follow Texas’s Move Over or Slow Down Law, you have legal rights. You may be able to file a car accident lawsuit against the driver in pursuit of financial compensation. If it was a hit-and-run accident, a lawyer can help you with a first-party claim or a claim against your employer, depending on the circumstances. Contact an attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible for assistance with this type of case.