Colorado has joined nine other states in enacting a tough new law aimed at protecting stranded motorists and others facing emergency roadside situations.
Starting in August, House Bill 23-1123 requires drivers to move one lane away from a stationary vehicle with its hazard lights on. If a second lane is not available, you must at least slow down— 20 miles per hour less than the posted limit, or a maximum of 25 mph in an area with a speed limit of 45 mph or less.
The new law comes amid rising nationwide concerns over the deadly situations that arise when people are in the vicinity of a disabled vehicle — changing a tire, responding to another emergency, or waiting for help to arrive. Around 350 people die each year in the U.S. in such circumstances. Many of them are emergency responders — including tow truck drivers, a profession with 15 times the work-related mortality rate of other industries.
We’ve written before about Colorado’s current “Move Over” law, which was passed in response to the roadside death of Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue in 2016. That law requires drivers to move over a lane from stationary emergency vehicles that have their lights flashing. The new law expands that requirement to all stationary vehicles with activated hazard lights.
A survey by AAA suggests that close to one in four people are unaware of the move-over law in their state. AAA has safety tips for drivers to help roadside workers, including:
- Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.
- Maintain enough distance between your vehicle and what you can see going on ahead of you to give yourself 20-30 seconds to respond to changing conditions by changing lanes and adjusting speed.
- When you see flashing lights or a disabled vehicle in the breakdown lane, slow down and prepare well in advance for a lane change. Allow others to merge into your lane when necessary.
- Allow extra space when following semi-trucks or large vehicles.
- Avoid sudden lane changes, especially on slick roads. Signal the change early and move over gradually.
- If you are unable to move over, slow down.
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