There are lots of different rules surrounding vehicle recovery and towing cars. Some of those rules apply to tow truck operators, others to the companies that own and maintain the trucks. There are even rules pertaining to drivers who pass by a tow truck operator in the middle of a recovery. Such rules are normally known as ‘slow down and move over’ rules.
According to the American Safety Commission, all 50 states now have slowed down and moved over laws in place. Hawaii was the last state to adopt such laws in 2012. It is up to drivers to know what the laws are before taking them to the roads. Rest assured that tow truck and wrecker operators consider slow down and move over rules just as important as the rules governing how they recover and secure cars.
Cargo Control Regulations
From both the federal and state perspectives, cars being towed or transported by a wrecker are considered cargo. As such, they are subject to cargo control regulations at either the state or federal levels.
Cargo control regulations determine how the tow truck operator must secure a recovered vehicle to the truck. According to Mytee Products, operators use a variety of webbing straps, chains, and hooks to keep cars in place. Cars must be prevented from breaking loose during transport.
Tow operators are also required to use safety lights. Those lights must be connected to the truck via a physical cable that carries electricity from the truck’s system to the lights. In order for truck drivers to use wireless lights, said lights must have a written exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Mytee Products says all these rules are in place to protect other drivers. In other words, other drivers are kept safe by rules that force tow truck operators to secure vehicles so that they don’t break loose during transport. The other side of the coin is the slowdown and move over rules designed to protect tow truck operators from other drivers.
How the Rules Work
States have different implementations of slow down and move over. As a general rule though, here’s how it works: a driver approaching a working tow truck or any first responder vehicle on a multi-lane, divided highway are required by law to either move over to an adjacent lane or slow down.
The idea is to get drivers to move over to adjacent lanes whenever they can do so safely. When it’s not safe to change lanes, they should at least be slowing down to a reasonable rate of speed that would allow them to react quickly enough if it became necessary.
Fines and penalties vary by state law. But here are just a few examples to demonstrate just how serious the states are about slowing down and moving over:
- Texas – Fines of up to $200
- North Carolina – Fines of up to $250
- Nevada – Fines of up to $395 and 4 license points
- Georgia – Fines of up to $500 and 3 license points.
Data shows that every year, hundreds of thousands of accidents occur on interstates and local highways involving drivers colliding with first responder vehicles, tow trucks, and other vehicles stopped at the side of the road. Unfortunately, hundreds of people die while thousands more are injured.
Whether you are talking cargo control or slow down and move over regulations, they are all in place to guarantee the safety of everyone on the roads. As such, all the rules are equally important. Please observe them whenever you drive.