Travel Safety: Disabled Vehicles and Law-Enforcement Stops Increase Maine Car Accident Risks

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety is reminding motorists to obey the state’s Move Over Law, after a trooper’s dash-cam video recorded a truck side-swiping a motorist stopped by Maine State Police.You can view the video at the Boston Globe. The officer had been standing alongside the motorist’s vehicle in the moments before it was struck by a box truck, and he likely would have been very seriously injured or killed. Authorities report the at-fault truck driver told police he was looking at his phone.

Maine’s Move Over Law (Title 29-A §2054-9) was passed in 2001 and requires motorists approaching stopped emergency vehicles to slow down and pull over to the lane furthest from the traffic stop (whenever possible). Emergency vehicles under the law are defined as law enforcement, fire department vehicles, or ambulances. Wreckers were added to the law in 2007. The law provides for a minimum fine of $311.

As the weather begins to clear, people will be traveling more frequently, increasing the risks for our law enforcement and safety service professionals. In the past month, a North Carolina trooper was struck by a distracted driver, and two troopers and two tow truck drivers were injured after an incident in New York.

AAA Northeast is also urging motorists to heed these laws and use common sense by slowing down and allowing law enforcement and emergency crews room to work.  The agency reports a Southport crash seriously injured a AAA employee last year, when two AAA vehicles were struck by a speeding box truck after stopping to help a disabled motorist. Connecticut’s law provides for fines of $2,500 for violations of a Move Over law that results in injuries, and up to $10,000 if a death results.

The Maine Turnpike Authority is providing a number of additional travel safety tips for motorists in advance of the warm weather:

  • Obey the speed limit and take special care in work zones, where construction workers and safety personnel may be present. Speeding in these zones will double the cost of your fine.
  • Don’t follow traffic too closely.
  • Use your headlights and your wipers in inclement weather.
  • Leave trucks the middle lane for passing — they are not permitted in the far left lane of three-lane highways.

Those dealing with a vehicle breakdown can reduce their risk of an accident by pulling as far off the breakdown lane as possible — into the grass if that is feasible. You should turn on your four-way hazard lights and call 911 to access the nearest state police station. A trooper or maintenance vehicle will be dispatched to your location.

When stopped by law enforcement, motorists should also pull as far off the roadway as possible — a well-lit area is best. Activate your hazard lights, roll your window down, and keep your hands (on the steering wheel) in plain sight. Drivers should not attempt to get out of the car unless ordered to do so by law enforcement.

If you are a victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Maine Supreme Judicial Court: Dog Bite Not Covered by Auto Accident Policy, Aug. 15, 2017, Bangor Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

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