State police are cautioning drivers to remember they must move over for officers and other first responders on the side of the highway, in light of Tuesday night’s accident on Route 50 near the Bay Bridge.
A Maryland Transportation Authority officer was hit by a car as he was standing on the shoulder of the road, talking to two people. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with non-life threatening injuries, and released Tuesday night.
Maryland law requires drivers to move over a lane, if possible, for first responders on the side of the road. In 2014, that law was expanded to include tow truck drivers.
“A human being is no match for a car,” said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.
To promote the importance of moving over, Maryland State Police have designated this month Move Over March in the western region of the state, which includes Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.
Cpl. DaVaughn Parker, state police spokesman, said that initiative could spread statewide.
Drivers ignoring the move over law is a problem, he said.
“There definitely has been an increase in incidents. A lot of people are getting seriously injured,” Parker said.
In 2014, after the law was updated to include tow truck drivers, police issued more than 8,000 citations. Updated statistics weren't immediately available.
A violation of the law is a primary offense, with a fine of $110 and one point. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash resulting in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points.
Parker said state police work hard to educate the public on the law, including through billboards, bumper stickers and social media campaigns.
The SHA is also planning to launch a similar campaign tied to National Work Zone Awareness Week, which happens every year in April when road construction projects start up.
“The side of the highway is a dangerous place to be,” Gischlar said.
Parker reminded drivers to slow down to a “reasonable” speed if they can’t immediately move over.
“It should be an automatic response,” he said. “A lot of people tend to look at and focus on those flashing lights, and your car naturally goes in that direction, too.”