Governor's Crash Responder Safety Week Proclamation

​Motorists Reminded of the Move Over Law and Urged to Slow Down When Approaching Traffic Incidents or Disabled Vehicles 

(November 13, 2023) – Governor Wes Moore has declared November 13-17, 2023, as Crash Responder Safety Week in Maryland. The governor issued a proclamation supporting a national effort to raise awareness of the critical role motorists play in keeping traffic incident responders safe as they perform their duties on our roadways. Most crashes are not accidents, because behaviors such as distracted driving, impairment by alcohol and/or drugs, speeding, and failing to move over are preventable.

As part of the observance of Crash Responder Safety Week, the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland Transportation Authority Police and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office are partnering to remind motorists to stay alert, move over and slow down when approaching traffic incidents and emergency responders.

“Highways are the daily workplace of our responders, and they deserve to be safe while assisting motorists involved in crashes or whose vehicles become disabled,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Incident responders need to know we have their backs. When motorists encounter an incident scene, they must slow down, pay attention and move over. It’s the law, and it’s essential to protect and honor these public servants.”

According to the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office, first responders and highway workers responded to 108,656 crashes on Maryland roadways in 2022 and thousands of other incidents such as disabled vehicles and roadway hazards. State Highway Administration emergency responder technicians assist a motorist every 16 minutes, and manage traffic at an incident every 22 minutes. Their work prevents up to 250 secondary incidents each year.

Since 2020, there have been 48 incidents of vehicles striking State Highway Administration trucks while tending to traffic incidents, including 17 so far this year. Nationally, 50 traffic incident responders were killed in the line of duty last year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Untold is the number of life-altering injuries responders incur every year while tending to a traffic incident.

“Our emergency responders who patrol more than 2,000 lane miles of roadways in Maryland 24/7 are often the first to arrive at crash scenes ready to assist motorists,” said State Highway Administrator William Pines. “All motorists must stay alert, slow down and move over when approaching a traffic incident so our workers can safely do their jobs and restore traffic flow as quickly as possible.”

In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration began commemorating Crash Responder Safety Week on the second full week in November – initially called National Traffic Incident Responder Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Protect Those Who Protect You.” The Federal Highway Administration encourages national, state and local organizations to amplify the visibility and message of this important week by using the campaign toolkit calendar ​and the hashtag, #CRSW. 

To commemorate the week, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office are utilizing social media platforms, providing media interviews and posting Move Over messages on overhead highway signs to reach motorists. The Maryland Transportation Authority Police and other law enforcement agencies are conducting high visibility enforcement activities. 

“Crash scenes are inherently dangerous,” said Acting Maryland Transportation Authority Police Chief Colonel Joseph F. Scott. “We must ensure we don’t make them even more dangerous for our crash responders who are working selflessly to help others.”

Crash Responder Safety Week complements the ongoing work of Maryland’s Work Zone Safety Work Group, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, which will propose comprehensive recommendations later this month that the state can adopt to protect workers on Maryland roadways as well as motorists. 

“Incident response scenes are work zones, and crash responders do critical work every day to respond to emergencies and help those in need,” said Lieutenant Governor Miller. “We must respect the crash responders and all those who work on our roadways by slowing down, moving over, and practicing safe driving when traveling through every work zone and incident response scene.”

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office, in conjunction with the State Highway Administration, released a video last month reminding motorists to follow the state’s Move Over Law. The law, which was expanded in 2022, requires motorists to move over when approaching any stopped, standing or parked vehicle displaying warning signals. The law is in place to protect law enforcement, emergency responders and any motorists who may encounter a roadside situation.

“As Maryland motorists, it’s our responsibility to follow safe driving behaviors by moving over and slowing down when approaching any stopped vehicle on the shoulder or traffic incident to ensure that every person arrives at their destination unharmed, said Motor Vehicle Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Wes Moore’s Highway Safety Representative. “Our first responders are heroes who risk their lives to assist us and safely clear crashes. Please do your part to provide them a safe working environment by slowing down, moving over a lane, and staying alert.”

Violating the law is a misdemeanor carrying a $110 fine and one point on the violator’s driving license. If the violation causes a crash, the fine is $150 and three points. If there is a death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points. 

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Editor’s Note

A copy of the Governor’s Proclamation declaring Crash Responders Safety Week is HERE.