Attention Maryland drivers: We have a very serious issue on the roads and we need your immediate attention to help make our roads safer and to save lives.
As you may know, in Maryland we have the “Move Over” law. When an authorized emergency vehicle is pulled over, all drivers must move to another lane and/or slow down as we carefully pass.
The Move Over law, which was passed in 2009, helps protect our first responders, law enforcement, EMS and our Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) Coordinated Highway Action Response Team (CHART) vehicles who are selflessly keeping our families safe and putting themselves in harm’s way every day.
Unfortunately, we are still experiencing deadly conditions on the side of the roads for those working to keep Marylanders moving safely. Our workers are out there every day helping motorists, and they are getting hit.
In 2014, the Move Over law expanded to include tow trucks and operators. In 2017, this legislation expanded further to provide additional protection for our MDOT SHA maintenance vehicles, our contractors and other service vehicles who assist with crash response, help disabled vehicles and remove debris from the roadway. Keep in mind, this job is a dangerous one.
This past year, MDOT SHA assisted its one millionth driver on Maryland highways thanks to CHART — one of the longest standing statewide traffic incident management and motorist assistance programs in the nation, developing into a model for other states. Without the dedication from those who work to support their fellow citizens, the roads would not be as safe and navigable as they are today.
CHART now has personnel and trucks performing 24/7 emergency patrol to meet ever-increasing traffic demands, which exceeded 60 billion miles in 2017. That’s a lot of drivers on our roads. That’s also a lot of exposure of our people to motorists who don’t Move Over.
Twenty-two of our MDOT SHA CHART trucks have been struck while assisting motorists since 2016. The severity is wide-ranging, but each and every incident should give us pause. Three of those impacts resulted in fatalities of the motorist. And four of our responders have been seriously injured. This past week, another responder vehicle was struck on the side of the road.
We have 39 Emergency Response Team (ERT) members and supervisors spread over three regions to cover roadway incidents 24/7. Those teams patrol approximately 2.4 million miles of Maryland’s roadways each year to safeguard motorists and incident responders. Considering the 39 team members and number of incidents in the last two years, the rate of exposure and injury for our team is alarmingly high.
Please help us keep everyone safe. If you see an emergency, law enforcement, CHART vehicle or anyone on the side of the road, slow down and move over. You might be saving a life.
As MDOT SHA administrator, I am constantly thinking about the safety of our team: those building, operating or maintaining Maryland highways and those out there driving, walking or biking. I want everyone to get home safe, and that includes the dedicated men and women who work on our roadways.
These are not nameless, faceless public servants. They are husbands, wives, fathers, sisters, sons and daughters. They are my coworkers, your friends and my friends. Because of speed, distracted driving and drivers not “moving over,” we are endangering their lives. I am pleading for your attention and help in this matter.
Gregory Slater, administratorMaryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration