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Move over.

We’re not talking about making room for another on the couch.

Move over when you’re on the road when you see blinking lights. Lots of drivers aren’t aware that it’s Virginia law to move over one lane if you’re passing stationary vehicles with flashing amber, red or blue lights, the kind typically reserved for police or emergency vehicles. It also applies to tow trucks or utility vehicles.

Of course, if it’s not safe to move over, proceed with due caution at a safe speed. Another caveat: The Move Over law only applies to highways that have at least four lanes with at least two lanes for traffic proceeding the approaching vehicle.

The reasoning behind the law is safety for emergency workers, first responders, police and construction crews doing their job. In fact, June is actually Move Over Awareness Month in Virginia.

A first-time offender of the Move Over law can receive a simple traffic infraction but a second violation can be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties increase if property damage or injury to a person occur. These penalties were strengthened by the General Assembly in July 2019.

Violation of the Move It law is considered reckless driving. A second offense can result in jail time, a fine and revocation of your license if circumstances dictate.

Another Virginia law, “Move It,” requires the driver of a movable vehicle to move it from the roadway to prevent obstructing the flow of traffic. Essentially, if you’re involved in a fender bender and you can move your car out of the way of traveling traffic, you must do so. But there are exceptions.

Do not move your vehicle if you or another passenger is injured and you could exacerbate those injuries by driving. Check for surrounding debris to be sure it is safe to move your vehicle. If it’s not, sit tight.

By moving your vehicle, you reduce the risk of a secondary crash and ensure that your mishap isn’t creating a larger traffic problem. Wait for police to arrive by the side of the road, and don’t worry that by moving your vehicle, you could risk not receiving due compensation from insurance. Your safety and that of those around you should always come first.

MidPenRideShare is a free service operated by the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission for residents, workers, commuters, and tourists in Virginia’s Middle peninsula (Counties of Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex and the towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna, and West Point).
The Commission has partnered with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and their Virginia-wide ConnectingVA program to provide free ridematching to find carpools, vanpools, and all forms of public transportation, trip planning, and information on park-and-ride lots, bike share services, electric vehicle charging stations, and rewards.