NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After July 1, 2023, anyone who doesn’t move over for cars with flashing hazard lights on the side of the road could face harsher penalties as a new state law goes into effect.
House Bill 0092 requires Tennessee drivers to move over or slow down when passing any stationary vehicle that has its flashing hazard lights activated, including civilian, maintenance, emergency or law enforcement vehicles.
Specifically, the bill changes the language of the state law to include any “stationary vehicle,” while before it was limited to emergency vehicles. The aim is to reduce crashes like the one that severed Tuskegee University football player Jabari Bailey’s left leg.
The bill dubbed the “Jabari Bailey Highway Safety Act” was named after the football player, who according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family after the July 11, 2018 crash, stopped to help a friend whose car was stalled on a major street in Memphis.
While they were on the side of the road, a truck slammed into the rear of his friend’s car at an estimated 60 mph and pinned Bailey between the two cars, severing his left leg at the knee and ending his college football career.
The same year Bailey was struck on the side of the road, the Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 161 citations for failing to move over in Shelby County and 77 citations in Davidson County.
According to the sponsors of the bill, it’s a problem that has affected countless people. In the Memphis area alone, Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis) told News 2 in February at least four first responders had been killed because of people failing to move over.
Many other civilians and workers have been injured after being struck on the side of the road. A recent study by AAA found that 60% of roadside workers experienced a near miss while working, and 15% of them reported surviving being hit themselves.
While all 50 states require drivers to move over for first responders and tow trucks, Tennessee will now be the tenth state to enact a law requiring them to move or slow down for disabled vehicles on the side of the road.
With the new law in effect next month, the first violation could land drivers with a fine more than double the previous penalty at no less than $250. The amount significantly increases for those who repeatedly violate the law, with a second or third violation resulting in a fine of $2,500 at minimum.