State highway workers not included in Maryland's new 'Move Over' law

Last November, a 25-year veteran of the Maryland State Highway Administration was killed while working along I-695 in Baltimore County.

Eddie Gilyard , 50, of Baltimore died at the scene. His colleague, Nathan A. Brown, was also injured. The driver, Mary T. Levy, has not been charged, according to electronic court records.

The accident came just more than a month after state Trooper Jacqueline Kline was struck by a passing vehicle while she was assisting another trooper on the shoulder of Route 100 in Anne Arundel County.  

The driver failed to move over as he passed the two marked police cars with their emergency lights activated.  

After Kline’s accident, state police cracked down on Maryland’s Move Over law , which requires drivers approaching from the rear of a stopped emergency vehicle with it lights activated to change lanes.

“It is just to create a barrier between emergency workers and the road,” said Sgt. Marc Black, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police. “If you are on the side of the road, you want to be as safe as possible.”

In Focus | Maryland State Police have greatly increased the number of citations they have issued for the move over law. Monday at 6 p.m.

But drivers are not required to change lanes if they see a highway worker in a construction zone on the road’s shoulder, though they often have to adhere to lowered speed limits.

Still, safety advocates reminded drivers to watch out for these workers.

“It’s a very important issue, and we do support an expansion of the law,” said Kara Macek, a spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. “If you’re on the side of the highway and you’re stopped and there’s a collision … you’re in bad shape.”  

The Maryland General Assembly passed updated the state’s original Move Over law this year. Once the law takes effect Oct. 1, tow truck drivers will be protected under it as well.

Violators will face a fine of up to $500.

The legislation was sponsored in the House by Dels. David Rudolph (D-Cecil County) and James E. Malone Jr. (D-Baltimore County) and in the Senate by Sens. Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford County), and Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County).

Highway workers, though, were not included, despite lobbying from SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters.   

“We encourage people to just move over when they see workers,” said Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for the SHA. “Even when you see a disabled vehicle, give them a wider berth. If someone is having a tire issue, they may be working very close to the shoulder line.”

Officials with AAA Mid-Atlantic, which pushed for tow truck drivers to be added to the law, said Maryland was one of a few states that didn’t recognize these drivers as emergency workers.

“We supported the law to protect law enforcement officers and first responders in 2010 and believe that those same protections are also necessary to protect tow truck drivers,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Cooper-Averella said.

But Cooper-Averella said AAA Mid-Atlantic would be supportive of any future efforts to include highway workers in the Move Over law.

“I think it would be important for them to be included as well,” Cooper-Averella said.

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