Changes to New York’s “Move Over Law”

By Chris Genovese, the “Marketing Guy”

Sometimes our laws are re-written and revised in subtle ways that can have dramatic positive effects on the community while also creating some challenges in other unanticipated ways. 

New York’s “Move Over Law” was enacted in 2010 to protect our police, emergency responders, and tow truck drivers from injury while they were pulled over on the shoulder or side of the road.  It applies to all of our states four lane roads, highways, and the Thruway. 

On March 27th, the law was changed to now also include any other vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road. The law went into effect immediately, the State Police seem to be motivated to enforce it. 

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven G. James said, “The New York State Police remains committed to keeping our roadways safe – for those who travel them, and for those who work on them. By expanding the Move Over Law and vigorously enforcing its provisions, we will be able to further improve safety for all who utilize our roads throughout the state.” 

Personally, I think that’s great, and I’m fully in favor of motorists being legally required to yield more space to anybody that is pulled over. My concern, however, is that, as motorists adjust to the new requirements of the law, we may find that it creates other dangers for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and those that ride motorcycles. 

Imagine a scenario when you’re riding your motorcycle in traffic on a two lane highway (one lane in each direction). You’re proceeding toward your destination and see a car that is disabled on the other lane’s shoulder as you approach a (left) turn in the road. As you reach the disabled car that is pulled over, an oncoming truck comes around the corner and suddenly sees the disabled vehicle. 

Could be trouble with a car pulled over on the other side of the road and a truck coming around the corner!

That oncoming driver will probably slow down as they approach the curve in the road and have plenty of time and space to avoid the disabled vehicle and any other traffic. 

However, experience tells me that they may NOT be paying attention as they round the corner and suddenly see the stopped car. And if they do not have enough time to slow down, they may not see/notice the motorcycle rider at all, and could dangerously and negligently cross over the center line directly into the rider’s path! 

Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but I doubt it. At the Kantor Gullo Law Firm we see far too much negligent and distracted driving that creates crashes and serious injuries for riders. And, as you ride around Western New York, I’m quite confident that you see some of the same nonsense! 

Right now, it seems like not many drivers are even aware of the recent changes to this law. So it may take a while for folks to catch on, and my guess it will become more “front of mind” if/when people start getting tickets for violations. 

So, for now, I’d just like to bring this to your attention (before it’s a thing, I guess) so that you can anticipate what might happen while riding when you see a vehicle pulled over. As always, it’s far better to be prepared for what might happen than to react when you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself in danger. 

So have fun and be aware of what’s around you (360°) at all times while riding. Anticipate potential dangers and leave yourself enough time and space (whenever possible) to get “out” of trouble. And if you do find yourself injured in a riding collision, call the Kantor Gullo Law firm for the best possible representation and outcome! 

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