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New York’s “Move Over” Laws Meant To Make Roadways Safer for Everyone

Drivers might not be aware of two relatively new vehicle and traffic laws in New York that went into effect in the last year. The first law, found in New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Article 1122-a, relates to bicyclists riding on the shoulder of a road. And the second law, Article 1144-a, relates to drivers and emergency vehicles stopped on the shoulder of a road.

Being Mindful of Bicyclists

Article 1122-a of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires drivers approaching a bicyclist on the shoulder of the road to make an effort to put as much distance as possible between their car and the bicyclist. If the road the driver is on is a one-lane road, drivers are permitted to slightly cross over into the oncoming lane to provide as much distance as possible between themselves and the bicyclist. If there is a car approaching in the oncoming lane making it unsafe to cross over, drivers are required to move over as much as possible in their lane and slow down until they pass the bicyclist.

Protecting Stopped Emergency Workers

Article 1144-a requires a driver to move as far away as possible from an emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing lights and is stopped on a shoulder, parked on a shoulder or standing on a shoulder. Drivers are required to change lanes so they are as far away as possible from the stopped emergency vehicle if the traffic flow allows. If traffic flow prohibits drivers from safely changing lanes, they are required to slow down to a safe and appropriate speed while moving over as much as possible in their lane when passing the stopped, parked or standing emergency vehicle.

Exercise Caution

The potential damage of a car that is traveling 55 mph can do to a person on a bicycle goes without saying. A driver has a much better view of the situation than a person on a bicycle does.

For law enforcement and emergency responders, the most dangerous place to be is stopped on the side of the road. Law enforcement officers, such as New York State Troopers, are in a very vulnerable position when they exit their vehicles to approach a car they’ve pulled over. Not only must troopers focus on what is going on in the car they are walking toward, but they must also focus on the cars passing by.

The new laws were put in place with the hope of providing a safer roadway for bicyclists and to offer protection to emergency responders and law enforcement when they are most vulnerable. Not adhering to these laws can result in stiff fines and points on your license. Keep in mind, however, that these laws are asking drivers to make judgment calls when faced with these situations, so traffic citations related to these laws can be challenged depending on the circumstances.

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