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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 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!

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Tina
1 month ago

I’ve seen it present more of a hazard to the move over law than what it would protect!

david shipp
1 month ago

More than the move over law not being known,,, it surprises me how many RV’ers do not have TPM on wheels. This article is a perfect example of the need. A TPM would have notified the driver before it was necessary to pull onto the shoulder and would have more than likely allowed a pull off in a safe location. Please understand, by the same token, TPM is not miraculous and won’t warn of EVERY wheel issue. Most modern cars and trucks have built in no frills TPM, but RV’s do NOT?

Vanessa Simmons
1 month ago

If you watch “Cops” or “On Patrol Live” you would think people have never heard of pulling over for emergency vehicles with lights and sirens racing down the road. So why would you think they know about and obey this law?

Carry orange cones and flashing lights, that stick on the rv/truck or lay on the ground, or flares.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vanessa Simmons
Jerry Eddy
1 month ago

all fifty states have laws relating to move over for disabled or emergency vehicles. Plus just common sense in safe driving would tell you to move over when possible or slow down .

MrDisaster
1 month ago

Moving over for a disabled vehicle is a sign of respect for the other vehicle. There is one other thing that should be part of every RV owners inventory. A safety vest. They cost about $30. available at most Box stores and local hardware stores. No it won’t make you invincible, but you will be a little more visible to that speeding traffic.

Gary R
1 month ago

As a courtesy to those vehicles stopped on the shoulder I always try to move over or slow down when passing by. Unfortunately the move over laws for most states apply to police, or other emergency vehicles with their flashing lights and not to vehicles driven by the rest of us.

Wallace Wood
1 month ago

Unless I have a major malfunction where my rig will not move I will slow down turn on my 4 way flashers to warn other drivers that I am a slow vehicle and proceed to the next exit turnout or some place safe.
I don’t care if I damage the wheel, the tire is junk no matter what. Anything else that might be damaged can be replace.
My life and my wife’s life is not worth the risk of sitting on the side of a highway.

david shipp
1 month ago
Reply to  Wallace Wood

AMEN!

Spike
1 month ago

Driving I-90 when I noticed the large wet bay door had opened. The shoulder was rather narrow in that area and best I could do was to get the coach about a foot off the line, leaving a couple feet of door hanging into traffic. I had my flashers on but no one, including commercial “professional” drivers slowed down at all…in fact I’m sure most everyone was vastly exceeding the speed limit. To make matters worse, the cause of the issue was a broken component in the latch. As I tried to rig something to keep the door closed at least until the next exit I was terrified as big rigs and cars whizzed by within inches of me. I got a temporary fix in a couple of minutes but it was very scary.

Every interstate I’ve ever been on has signage about moving over or slowing down. ZERO EXCUSE for not knowing about and executing one of those. Life or death for the people on the side of the road…a second or two of inconvenience for those in the travel lanes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Spike
Neal Davis
1 month ago

We, too, were in that situation. Our front passenger tire on our Grand Cherokee blew out without us noticing. We, too, had TPMS sensors on all 8 RV tires, but not the Jeep’s. Thankfully, we were also warned by passing motorists. However, beyond that we were greatly blessed in that a closed weigh station was at hand. We entered it and could change the tire, disconnect the Jeep, and have it towed to a nearby repair shop, all well away from the fast-moving traffic of Interstate 75. We immediately repented by ordering 4 additional TPMS monitoring valve caps and added them to our Jeep (after the damage was repaired and the tires replaced).

We always move over or slow dramatically when passing a truck or other vehicle on the roadside. It is easy to imagine how buffeted they feel and how unpleasant and difficult roadside repairs are without the addition of fearing for one’s life.

Impavid
1 month ago

How many times have I been on a 4 lane divided highway (that’s right, two lanes going each way) and I’ve pulled into the left lane as there is a stopped vehicle on the right hand shoulder and Mr. Idiot has passed me on the right so he/she/gender unspecified is now between me and the stopped vehicle and maintaining highway speed. For fear of causing an accident I’ve been tempted to straddle the line separating the two lanes but Mr. Idiot would likely try and squeeze through between us. Where I live, when there is an emergency vehicle, tow truck or maintenance vehicle displaying flashing lights all vehicles passing one of those vehicles must slow to 40 mph.

Karen
1 month ago

Yup, I knew. I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t a law, but common courtesy, which we sorely lack nowadays. Include in here the moving over for funerals who are on the highway. In town, pull over n stop.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

And now you have a better appreciation why police come up behind somebody pulled over, turn on THEIR flashers and overhang the patrol car, if need be, into the lane. It is to allow the owner enough safe working space to make repairs.

Ever notice truckers use at least 3 reflective orange triangles behind their rig with each approaching triangle slightly further out from the truck? Same reason. To create a safer working space.

And then there are the signs now in most States informing drivers entering a work zone that not only do speed fines double but there are additional financial penalties (presumably above what an injury court would levy) for injuring a worker with your vehicle.

And there are still drivers who don’t care about anybody but their own convenience.

Brian
1 month ago

It should also be noted that you should only be stopping on the shoulder if it is a genuine emergency, if you have to relieve yourself, change drivers or if you just want to check your rig you should wait for an exit and do it safely.

Bob p
1 month ago

The problem is most police whether local to state don’t enforce the law. That’s just like the law that says don’t ride the passing lane unless you’re passing a slower vehicle. I believe most states have that law but police do not enforce it. Some drivers think that if they’re driving the speed limit they have the right to drive in any lane they please.

kat
1 month ago

I will always slow down and try to stay in the right lane, forcing those behind me to not go ripping by. The exception is police, ambulance or fire, then I will move to other lane.

Ran
1 month ago

Yup. TPMS is mandatory for me! I’ve seen toads with flat tire dragging down the road and the MH did not even know it! The tire caught on fire, burned the whole front end of his Jeep, before he was told to pull over. Now, sometimes we have to bite the bullet to protect our rigs. Imagine the same thing about insurance? What if you don’t have any, because you don’t need it, until __it hits the fan!? 🤮

Tom E
1 month ago
Reply to  Ran

Like TPMS & seat belts in the tow vehicles today. Yes, they should be required safety devices when towing trailers at highway speeds. My 5 year old TPMS sensor failed on my dually truck. The right, inside rear truck tire failed at 62 mph on the highway. Had the sensor not failed I would have known there was a problem, stopped, and changed the tire. After replacing the tire I had the sensors checked and put back in working order. I now check all 10 tires for changing pressure and temperatures every 1/2 hr or so when towing.

Jewel
1 month ago

Well, much as I wish it were the law as you described, it is only in effect for emergency equipped vehicles – police, fire, EMT, tow truck, etc. with emergency lights.

The law doesn’t, at least in the states I’m aware of, require the same safety corridor for the rest of us.

Thankfully, MOST (but not all) drivers will tend to move over though it’s clear many drivers don’t even have a clue the dangers of driving at 80mph only 5 to 10 feet from a stationary object or worse, a human.

It is a great courtesy and excellent habit to just get into moving over or slowing down 20 mph below the posted speed limit whenever ANY vehicle is stopped on the shoulder, particularly when it’s a vehicle in distress.

P-squared
1 month ago
Reply to  Jewel

I’m glad someone got it right. The law, at least in Tennessee, “requires motorists to move over … or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles, including recovery vehicles (tow trucks), highway maintenance vehicles, solid waste vehicles, or utility service vehicles.” Slow down means 20MPH below the posted speed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to private vehicles stranded on the side of the road.

Ron
1 month ago

after reading through most of these comments, i’m saddened to see that we are not the only ones that have had trouble on the interstate and passerby’s could care less about you or your safety. while changing a blown out tire on the driver’s side of our trailer sitting on the shoulder of an interstate in west virginia, a tractor trailer rig wiped out one of our safety triangles with my wife standing there waving a yellow towel to try to help alert drivers to move over. most drivers did move over but this one rig driver came over on the shoulder and almost hit us both.

Jay
1 month ago

Drove semi for 46 years and I can tell you that not only cars but semis fail to move over also. Some care some don’t. After 2 plus million miles had to hang it up as it was getting dangerous out there and it was time to jump in our Itasca and get the heck out of Dodge. Indiana is good about pulling over those that don’t move over. Piece of advice, get that turn signal on early to let the traffic behind you know that you need over. I would also use my 4 ways to alert others there was something up ahead that needed their attention.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Amen, I will also add cell phones to the list as to why people don’t move over.

McTroy
1 month ago

The underskirt on our travel trailer decided to drop while we were on I75. My husband was under the trailer trying to brace it up while the trailer was rocking from passing traffic. We had a wide shoulder and were off the road but few vehicles got over a lane. Until I called 911. A state trooper was very helpful by pulling behind our rig and putting his lights on. He offered his assistance when we had to cut off the dropped underskirt too. When we had to pull onto t h e interstate he helped to move traffic over for us. Don’t forget to call an officer for your safety!

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