By Russ and Tiña De Maris
When a couple in a Jeep rolled down their window and started yelling at us, we took notice. We were rolling down Oregon’s I-84, and their message wasn’t misunderstood: “Your tire is completely gone!” We moved onto the right shoulder “breakdown” lane to eyeball the situation. Despite our hazard lights flashing, and our rather large travel trailer posterior hanging out there “In front of God and everybody,” traffic paid little attention. Doesn’t anybody know about “move over or slow down”?
Rocking and rolling
What little remained of the passenger side rear trailer tire may well have constituted “completely gone.” I could hear a voice in my head. It was RVtravel.com’s Tire Guy, Roger Marble, lecturing about the importance of having a tire pressure monitoring system. But with 10 tires to monitor, it seemed like a pretty spendy purchase. But now, blown tire, possibly damaged aluminum rim, and “gone” wheel-well skirt, perhaps I’d need to reconsider. Any rate, we had bigger problems. Traffic was blasting by at a furious rate, rocking the rig, and seriously threatening our trailer towing mirrors.
Move over or slow down directives are more than a suggestion. In all 50 states, the law requires drivers to move over or slow down when they come upon a stopped vehicle. The reasoning is clear: For us, we wondered if we should bail out and get as far away from the rig as we could. For first responders and tow truck operators, it’s a “Will I get to come home from work tonight” question. Between 2011 and 2016, 191 tow company workers were killed on the job. Breaking it down, that meant every year, nearly 43 of these folks were killed per 100,000 full-time workers. Work in any other industry, the average death rate is a minuscule 2.9 per 100,000 workers.
What the laws boil down to
With these kinds of statistics, it’s no wonder all the states have made the move over or slow down laws. While space doesn’t allow us to quote the laws for each state, it boils down to this. When approaching a scene where tow operators, police, firefighters, or emergency medical crews are working at the roadside, move over or slow down. Slow down how much? Some states recommend 10 to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. Other states include utility workers, service crews, or any-old vehicle with hazard lights flashing to their list of move overs.
So what’s to do when you can’t move over a lane? Say traffic is too heavy, or you’re on a single-lane-per-direction roadway? Slow it down! It doesn’t require much effort, but it can save lives.
Didn’t know? Don’t feel alone
If you’re never heard of the law, don’t feel alone. While all 50 states have Move Over laws, less than 30 percent of Americans know about these laws. That’s a gem from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Also, a recent Auto Club survey of drivers showed that many confuse this law with others that require drivers to move to the right for emergency vehicles using flashing lights on route to an emergency.
How about you? Have you ever been in a breakdown situation and felt your rig or your life was threatened by traffic? Let us know!