Saturday, January 29, 2022


Rig on the shoulder? Move over or slow down! It’s the law

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”?

move over slow down
R&T De Maris photo

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’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!


RVer Safety: Mountains, flat tires and rest stops



Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 months ago

Beware the fine print! “Move over or slow down” is a deceptive campaign slogan. We’ve seen the signs in Washington state regarding emergency vehicles. But the law really states that if it is clear to do so you must move over … if you cannot move over then you must slow down by at least 10mph.

5 months ago

I don’t think it is that people do not know the law, it is more they don’t care. Many are so distracted talking to another person, on the phone, listening to music or just in a ‘travel trance’ they don’t think about it.

5 months ago

In my working years I regularly drove stretch of road where the State Police were known to stop speeders. They also positioned a few cars down the road to stop the drivers that did not move to the left lane or slow down. I was always amused to see these people pulled over when the went speeding around me on the right side!

5 months ago

I was on I-84 yesterday and had to pull over as well. I was appalled at the speed of trucks and vehicles whizzing by, so much so that my 19’ airstream shook with every passing vehicle, and trucks were worse! Pulling back into traffic was treacherous.

5 months ago

I guess I am lucky to say, I have never broken down while traveling. I always slow down or move left when encountering a breakdown or emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. I always move to the right when I see emergency vehicles moving, no matter the direction they are traveling. In either case, it is always those people in a big hurry that honk or pass when I move over or stop. Why can’t people obey laws or respect others safety?

Michael Galvin
5 months ago

The basic TST tire pressure and temperature monitor handles 10 tires.

5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Galvin

It may handle and monitor 10 tires, but basic systems don’t come with that many tire monitors. Seems most that I looked at did not! So, they offered the option of purchasing extra monitors (they’re kinda pricey).

Lil John
5 months ago

The problem is the signs say “emergency or maintenance vehicles”. How do I put this kindly? Oh well. Some folks are just stupid AND stubborn. It does not say regular vehicles, so full speed ahead! Same problem here in California with passing slow vehicles. The code book says when 5 cars are behind you, you must pull over and let them by. I’ve followed motorhomes for twenty miles with two or three hapless drivers because it was not to the required number of cars. “I don’t have to pull over yet!”. Some drivers never get it.

Neal Davis
5 months ago

We always try to move over when we see a vehicle on the side of the highway unless it is obvious that no people are present. Sometimes we are unable to move over and then we dramatically reduce our speed. We were reminded of this necessity recently. A highway patrolman was parked on the side of the interstate while a tow truck driver recovered a broken-down car. One car in the string of passing traffic failed to slow or move over. The patrolman quickly caught and stopped that car and issued a ticket or possibly more.. Thankfully we have only broken down twice. The first time we were on a freeway on-ramp and pulled to the shoulder. The other time we were able to get off the road and park in a safe area of a large gas station.

Marie Beschen
5 months ago

Several years ago, when we had a blow-out on the freeway, we called our AAA Road Service. They told us that because we were on the freeway, they HAD to have a tow truck to us in 30 min. or less because of the danger. (they did). I don’t know if that was their rule, or the CA State law, but I thought it was interesting (and prudent).

5 months ago

No surprise. Had two flats in the last couple years. Very few pull over. Call that road service agency. They said they would call the state police. They never showed. The service didn’t show for the last flat. We also put out additional emergency lights and the traffic could see us from a mile to a mile and a half away.

Eric Devolin
5 months ago

As was written, I was a tow truck operator for several years and experienced the wrath of stupidity by people whom had gotten a operators licence and I don’t think can read road signs which in the past 10 years have been installed explaining the written law. We have travelled across both the USA & Canada and have seen “ few” people slow down or even change lanes to avoid a stopped vehicle. These people need to stop on the side of a highway and get out and feel the turbulence created from a vehicle passing at only 50 miles per hour maybe then they would consider giving some space to stopped vehicles

Teresa Simons
5 months ago

Yes we had a tire blow on I-5 in Oregon on our travel trailer and we pulled over onto the shoulder. We called Good Sam and they asked if we were in a safe place and we said not really for changing the tire. They told us to call 911 , which we did and an Oregon State Trooper showed up and said he would follow us to the next off ramp and to keep on the shoulder and drive as slow as possible like 10 mph or less. He followed with lights flashing and he was half on the shoulder and in the right lane and got us safely off the freeway to a pullout where Good Sam could come and change the tire for us. Oregon State Troopers are the best in my opinion.

5 months ago

I’ve moved over for stopped emergency vehicles only to have someone pass me on the right!

Mike Sherman
5 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Use both lanes, 50/50. No one can pass. So what, only talking a few seconds.

5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sherman

My thought as well but some idiot will probably still try and shoot the gap further endangering the broken down vehicle.

Cindy Walker
5 months ago

Transmission in truck froze up going down mountain into Pendleton OR. Two lanes but left one blocked off for road maintenance. We were just off the road. Semi’s, some slowed and some didn’t. Worker moved cones closer to us, narrowing right lane and I moved them back. State police came by and road supervisor stayed with us until tow truck came for the 5th wheel and flatbed for the truck. We had Good Sam Roadside and they paid for everything. It took 3 hours to get them there but they did come. We were in Pendleton for 3 weeks but the campground at the casino was very nice.

5 months ago

Been there too! We were headed West on I-40 in OK, running at 65 into a 40+ mph headwind pulling our 36′ 5’er, when I noticed that the corrugated plastic basement covering under the rig was peeling off and flapping in the wind on the driver’s side. There were 2 lanes and one narrow breakdown lane, no shoulder, and 75 mph speed limit. And the truckers were all in a hurry that day! I had to crawl under the trailer on the driver’s side to cut loose the plastic, which I threw into the rig for disposal at the next dumpster. It was a VERY hard way to discover that these things are NOT designed to withstand 100+ mph wind.

5 months ago

Several times I’ve been in that situation. The worst problem is when I’m trying to move over with my rig and the idiots in the next lane trap me so I can’t.

5 months ago

Yes we know about the law, however……

In the above photo you show a man with his “toes on the line”. We recently attended a rally where a Ohio State Trooper stated DO NOT DO THIS!! Even at the risk of loosing a rim, you should drive slow to the next exit. A rim can be replaced!

5 months ago

The last time I had to stop on the shoulder to fix a wheel bearing on my car dolly, the next exit was in 30 miles. Am I going to keep going with a disintegrating wheel bearing? Not a chance!

Roger V
5 months ago
Reply to  Dan

That’s your choice of course. Loose a wheel bearing, a leg, or if you’re really unlucky, your life.

5 months ago

Last year on I-40 in Eastern Arkansas we suffered a catastrophic wheel bearing failure on our 5th wheel. Fortunately, a trucker got our attention before the wheel completely fell off. Unfortunately, the shoulder where we had to pull over was just the width of our RV between the steel barrier and the interstate. I called our roadside assistance and the first thing out oh the advisors mouth was, “Are you safe and OK? I can hear big trucks going right by you”. And indeed they were. Very heavy traffic in both lanes, going around 70-75 MPH. Roadside assistance called the State Police first, before beginning the search for a repair service. A trooper arrived within minutes, assessed the situation, and advised that we needed to get off the shoulder area as soon as possible. With his escort, we were able to limp VERY SLOWLY to an exit a mile and a half ahead. Frightening experience to say the least.

5 months ago

Pennsylvania just recently passed this LAW. The steer clear law states:
“The ‘Steer Clear’ law requires drivers to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle. This law will help prevent injuries and save lives, but only if drivers follow the law and use common sense. Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Law: 3327”.
Very few people follow this law. I have actually seen drivers speed up to get around a disabled vehicle. Of course, a lot of them are in a big hurry or think their phone call or text message is more important than the safety of others.
I, for one, have always tried to move over or slow down.

Walt Sinkhorn
5 months ago

Since retiring 8 years ago my wife & I have crisscrossed the U.S.A. multiple times. We have only had 3-4 occasions where we had to pull off the driving lanes on the Interstate. Once was enough! Semi’s and all other traffic flying past us at 75 MPH was absolutely terrifying. In the past several years we have experienced 2 tire blowouts on our trailer. Rather than just pull off, we put on our flashers and moved to the pull off lane and continued to drive around 25 MPH until we were able to reach either an exit lane or somewhere that had a hard shoulder so we could get at least 15-20 feet away from speeding traffic. On one of those occasions we had to drive at a crawl for 5 miles. Replacing a chrome rim is cheaper than a life lost or serious injury caused by some careless driver. Always, when I see a vehicle ahead who is off the road, I immediately click on my left signal and attempt to move over. When we do, some idiot zooms around my right side and flies past the disabled vehicle.