In 2018, a Walker County Sheriff’s Deputy was requested to assist a motorist on Highway 27 who had struck a deer. When the deputy arrived, he activated his emergency (blue) lights, pulled alongside the roadway behind the motorist’s vehicle, which was in a southbound direction of the right lane.
As the deputy exited his patrol vehicle to check on the motorist that had struck the deer, another motorist operating a vehicle southbound on Highway 27 struck the rear of the patrol vehicle at a speed of approximately 60 mph. The impact caused the parked patrol vehicle to be shoved down the roadway several feet. Both the deputy and the motorist who hit the deer were five feet from the impact.
The pictures below show the resulting damage of this crash, with the photo on the left taken at the crash scene and the one of the right the following day.
The State of Georgia has a specific law regarding the procedures for passing stationary authorized emergency vehicles, stationary towing or recovery vehicles, or stationary highway maintenance vehicles. This law is commonly referred to as the “move over” law. This law is designed to protect emergency responders (fire, EMS, and law enforcement), wrecker operators, roadway maintenance crews and power company personnel anytime they are working around a roadway in an authorized capacity, with the proper emergency lights flashing and visible.
(a) The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or blue lights shall approach the authorized emergency vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a peace officer, proceed as follows:
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the towing, recovery, or highway maintenance vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of this subsection would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.(c) Violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this Code section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00.
The law states that if you approach an authorized emergency vehicle as described, you must “move over” by making a lane change away from the emergency vehicle. If this cannot be done due to road design, heavy traffic, or some other reason that would make moving over unsafe, the motorist must then slow down to a speed below the posted speed limit that would be considered reasonable for the roadway and be prepared to stop. The above image can be used as a reference to what the law describes.