Heads up, Marylanders! We’re surrounded by states that have steer clear laws, with stiff penalties for violation. Ignorance of these laws is no excuse.
“What’s a steer clear law?” you may say.
Not all states have this law, but in these surrounding jurisdictions, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, there are laws requiring drivers to slow down and move over a lane, if possible, when passing a stopped police or other emergency vehicle. Break these laws and you can even go to jail! The precise language and penalty varies from state to state, so check out the hyperlinks for specifics.
Failure to obey the statute would have resulted in a $75 fine, which is quite mild, compared to versions of this law that have passed in other states. Look for the proposal to be re-introduced in 2009.
If you do some interstate driving, especially over the holidays, you must know about these statutes, which are also known as slowdown, move over laws. Some versions of the law make you slow down and move over for tow trucks as well as for police and other first responders.
Even without such a law in Maryland (or for that matter, the District of Columbia), and even without specific advice to this effect in the Maryland Driver’s Handbook, it’s a good habit to slow down and steer clear of stopped, standing or parked police and emergency vehicles. No matter what state you’re driving in, why risk lives when it’s so easy to be safe?