Colorado has enhanced its Move Over Law so it will now better protect anybody on the side of the road with a disabled vehicle.
House Bill 23-1123 requires that any driver who sees a stationary or disabled vehicle with its hazards on along the side of a highway must move over. If that is not safely possible, they must slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit while passing, the law reads. Previously, the law safeguarded police and emergency responders, but is now widened to include anybody with a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on March 17.
This change goes into effect on Aug. 7, which Polis has declared as “Slow Down, Move Over Day” in Colorado.
All 50 states have a Move Over law to protect first responders, but Colorado is now one of 19 others that provide protections for all disabled vehicles.
"With the updated Move Over Law, we are taking a significant stride toward our goal of zero deaths on Colorado roads," said Matthew C. Packard, chief of CSP. "Slowing down for disabled vehicles shows respect for every road user, and together, we can create a safer driving environment for everyone."
The penalty for breaking this law is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense with a possible fine of $150 and a three-point license violation, CDOT said. According to the law, if the driver's actions cause injury or death, the charges may become elevated to a Class 6 felony.
This new measure came "as 2022 marked the deadliest year on Colorado roads since 1981," CDOT reported. As of Monday, seven CDOT safety patrol trucks have been hit by passing motorists in 2023, CDOT reported. In addition, four CDOT attenuator trucks have been hit by drivers in Denver.
We had another emergency vehicle hit last night on I25 in El Paso county. This is 7 this year so far. The Trooper went to the hospital as a precautionary - and is doing fine.— Colorado State Patrol (@CSP_News) March 21, 2023
Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and obey the Move Over, Slow Down law. #itsathinline pic.twitter.com/h1sgytyrMt
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle towing is one of the country's deadliest lines of work. CDOT said it has a death rate 15 times more than every other private industry combined. Across the United States last year, 51 emergency responders working on the road were hit and killed. That includes 17 law enforcement officers, 18 tow truck operators, four mobile mechanics, and 11 firefighters and EMS personnel, CDOT said.
In addition, almost 350 people are struck and killed outside a disabled vehicle along roads in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"People dealing with an issue on the side of the road are in a dangerous position, especially our first responders and others who regularly are near live traffic,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. “It is up to all of us, in every situation, to make the road as safe as possible when we see a vehicle pulled over on a shoulder. Move over and slow down for everyone, every time."