'Move Over' law expands to all drivers on Florida roadways

HB 425, which expands Florida's old 'Move Over' law, officially took effect in 2024
Posted at 12:43 AM, Jan 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 00:43:39-05

STUART, Fla. — One of the many new laws taking effect in this New Year is an expansion of Florida's "Move Over" law, and it could likely affect you.

For years, Floridians have had to move over a lane for first responders, tow trucks and municipal vehicles.

That didn't apply, however, to any vehicle on the side of the road.

HB 425, however, drafted and passed in 2023, changes that. According to the new law, drivers will have to move over a lane or slow down to 20 miles under the posted speed limit for any stranded driver on the side of the road with hazard lights or another emergency signal on.

"Now this allows law enforcement to issue citations in circumstances where people are pulled off to the side of the road in danger and people are driving by at high rates of speed," Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said. "It's definitely a big bonus in the state of Florida that we have this now."

For Flowers, it's a bit personal.

"Back when I was a patrol deputy, my vehicle was actually hit on the side of the road," Flowers said. "Guy was driving along and struck my partner's vehicle, which then struck my vehicle."

According to the American Automobile Association or AAA, between 2016 and 2020, an average of 350 drivers were hit and killed while standing next to a stranded vehicle on the side of the road every year.

"What we're finding is that one of the worst places to pull over your car is the turnpike or I-95," state Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, said.

Roth co-sponsored the bill for that reason, and Flowers said he fully plans to have his deputies cite anyone who fails to move over a lane and/or slow down for drivers on the side of the road.

"They're in just as much danger as anybody else," Flowers said.

Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers remembers when his patrol vehicle hit by another
Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers remembers when his patrol vehicle hit by another.

The maximum fine for a move-over law violation is $158.

Warren Driscoll, co-owner of KW Wrecker towing company in Stuart, said he believes the law is a step forward, but felt there still needs to be stronger enforcement.

Driscoll was hit by a car while helping a stranded vehicle on the side of the road on June 6, 2006.

"Mentally, it's still in the back of your head," he said. "I mean, it's always there."

Driscoll said the day it happened, a driver ran out of gas and called KW Wrecker for help.

While Driscoll was filling up the truck's tank, he said another oncoming truck didn't see the two men on the side of the road and hit and killed the driver Driscoll was helping before hitting Warren himself.

"I jumped up on the truck, I got my arm and my shoulder messed up," Driscoll said. "My leg is still bad. It's hard for me to shift."

Driscoll said even after the original move-over law passed, he sees people every day who don't follow it.

"I see maybe one out of 10 move over — maybe," Driscoll said.

That's why Driscoll is hoping agencies enforce the new law, and that drivers abide by it. He knows for him, his customers, co-workers and others, it could mean getting home in one piece.

"We all need to see our kids. We all need to see our families. I'm lucky I survived," Driscoll said. "Give us room. We need to live."

According to AAA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, two emergency responders, including tow workers, are struck and killed every month by a driver who fails to obey the law by moving over to an adjacent lane and allowing the roadside rescuers the space to operate. 

AAA said roadside crashes are also notably deadly for tow workers. Government data shows that tow operators are killed at a rate of almost 43 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to just three for all other industries.