Tennessee Move Over Laws

If you fail to slow down or move over to an adjacent lane when near an active emergency vehicle, it could result in fines up to $500 and possible jail time.
Written by Kevin Martinez
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Jan 11, 2023
Tennessee law requires all drivers to move over and reduce speed when approaching active emergency vehicles. If you fail to do so, you could face fines up to $500 and possible jail time of up to 30 days.
One of the many risks of being an emergency responder is being struck by a moving vehicle at the site of the accident. Since the late 90s, many states have created laws that protect emergency responders when at the site of an accident.
Nearly every state has a move over law. It’s important to ensure that you’re well informed of your state’s rules regarding giving the right of way to emergency vehicles. 
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What are the move over laws in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, when approaching an active emergency vehicle, all drivers must either move over or slow down. Under the Tennessee Move-Over Law
(T.C.A 55-8-132)
passed in 2006, drivers must:
  • Move over to the adjacent lane of traffic when safe to do so
  • If deemed unsafe, you must reduce your speed to a reasonable amount until you have left the scene of the emergency

What is considered an emergency vehicle in Tennessee? 

Tennessee’s move over law applies to all emergency vehicles that display active blinking lights. Here are some of the most common emergency vehicles that you must move over for:
  • Patrol cars
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Utility vehicles
  • Other law enforcement vehicles

Penalties for violating Tennessee’s move over laws

If you fail to move over or reduce your speed correctly, you could be in violation of Tennesee’s move over laws and may be subject to the following penalties:
  • A fine of up to $500
  • Possible jail time—up to 30 days
If your failure to move over or slow down causes severe injuries or even death to another individual, you could be subject to additional offenses, including civil and criminal charges.
Anytime you see an emergency vehicle with blinking lights, you must move over or slow down to ensure you’re following the law and avoid any penalties.

Can violating move over laws raise your insurance? 

Anytime you commit a traffic violation, chances are it will get added to your driving record—which can affect your insurance rates. 
If it’s a one-time offense, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. If you have multiple violations, though, you run the risk of being deemed a high-risk driver. This significantly increases your insurance rates.
If you have a
clean driving record
, on the other hand, you’ll end up enjoying some serious savings on your insurance. The cleaner your record, the lower your rates.

Why are there move over laws? 

Move over laws require drivers to create buffer zones for emergency vehicles and responders, such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. Their primary purpose is to protect emergency responders from injuries or death from being struck by oncoming traffic while at an accident site.
All states except Washington D.C. have some version of a move over law. The first instance of one was passed in the early 2000s after a South Carolina paramedic, James D. Garcia, was struck by a moving vehicle while at the scene of an accident. 
Since then, Garcia has fought long and hard for greater protections. But accidents still occur and in 2021, 65 emergency responders were hit by oncoming traffic.

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