"Steer Clear" law enacted in Pennsylvania September 9, 2006

As of September 2006 Pennsylvania joins about 3 dozens states with similar laws

{Act #113 amends 75 PA CS Sec 3327}

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Article from PennDOT web site


HARRISBURG – A state law that took effect this month requires Pennsylvania motorists to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle, state Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. said today.

"The new 'Steer Clear' law simply takes what should be common sense and makes it a requirement for safe driving in Pennsylvania," said Biehler. "Police officers, emergency crews and those working to assist stranded motorists must be given a wider margin for safety – and we are counting on all drivers to help us achieve this goal."

The law requires motorists to move to a lane that is not adjacent to the scene of an emergency response, police stop or a tow truck picking up an abandoned vehicle. If drivers cannot move over because of traffic or other conditions, they must reduce their speed.

The law applies any time an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing and where road crews or emergency personnel have lighted flares, posted signs or tried to warn motorists. Failure to move over or slow down can result in a summary offense that carries a fine of up to $250. In addition, fines will be doubled for traffic violations occurring in these areas. If that violation leads to a worker being injured, a 90-day license suspension could result.

In cases where law enforcement may not be present, the law allows road workers and emergency responders to report violations by motorists. Law enforcement can issue citations based on these reports.

For more information regarding the “Steer Clear” law, visit PennDOT’s website at www.dot.state.pa.us.

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AAA News Release


On September 8, a new “Steer Clear” law goes into effect in Pennsylvania. The new law requires drivers to steer clear – that is, move as far as possible from emergency vehicles and personnel on the roadway.  This includes police, fire, ambulances and tow trucks, such as AAA’s Roadside Assistance vehicles.


AAA assists an average of 957 stranded motorists a day in the Philadelphia 5-county area. 


Emergency workers perform a vital task and are often on the highways under difficult conditions. It is dangerous business to assist a disabled vehicle,” said Catherine L. Rossi, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The new “Steer Clear” law provides crucial protection for AAA tow operators.”


Pennsylvania’s law is applicable whenever there are instructions or indications of an emergency response scene, such as signs, flares, flashing lights and other devices, as well as the presence of law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel, such as tow truck drivers.


“AAA’s Roadside Assistance is an important member benefit. Hundreds of AAA technicians are out on the roads every day during all hours.  This new law provides AAA tow truck operators with the protection they deserve as they provide a valuable service to stranded motorists,” noted Rossi.


“Too often we hear of emergency personnel being killed or injured by inattentive drivers.  AAA urges all Pennsylvania drivers to take note and practice courtesy on the roads.  This is a safety issue for everyone,” concluded Rossi.


The law states that if motorists cannot move to a lane farthest away from the scene, they must not drive “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.”  Violation of the law is a summary offense, carrying a fine up to $250.

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Actual Text

75 Pa.CS sec. 3327 (amended by Act 113 of 2006):


Section 3327.  Duty of driver in emergency response areas.
        (a)  General rule.--When approaching or passing an emergency
     response area, a person, unless otherwise directed by an
     emergency service responder, shall:
            (1)  pass in a lane not adjacent to that of the emergency
        response area, if possible; or
            (2)  if passing in a nonadjacent lane is impossible,
        illegal or unsafe, pass the emergency response area at a
        careful and prudent reduced speed reasonable for safely
        passing the emergency response area.
        (b)  Penalty.--Any person violating subsection (a) commits a
     summary offense and shall, upon conviction, pay a fine of not
     more than $250.
        (b.1)  Suspension of operating privilege.--The department
     shall suspend the operating privilege of any person for 90 days
     upon receiving a certified record of the driver's conviction,
     adjudication of delinquency or admission into a preadjudication
     program for a violation of subsection (a), if the certified
     conviction indicates the violation resulted in serious injury to
     another person. The license shall be surrendered in accordance
     with section 1540 (relating to surrender of license).
        (c)  Marking.--An emergency response area shall be clearly
     marked with road flares, caution signs or any other traffic-
     control device which law enforcement officials may have at their
     immediate disposal or visual signals on vehicles meeting the
     requirements of Subchapter D of Chapter 45 (relating to
     equipment of authorized and emergency vehicles).
        (d)  Reports by emergency service responders.--
            (1)  An emergency service responder observing a violation
        of subsection (a) may prepare a written, signed report which
        indicates that a violation has occurred. To the ex tent
        possible, the report shall include the following information:
                (i)  Information pertaining to the identity of the
            alleged violator.
                (ii)  The license number and color of the vehicle
            involved in the violation.
                (iii)  The time and approximate location at which the
            violation occurred.
                (iv)  Identification of the vehicle as an automobile,
            station wagon, motor truck, motor bus, motorcycle or
            other type of vehicle.
            (2)  Within 48 hours after the violation occurs, the
        emergency service responder shall deliver a copy of the
        report to a police officer having authority to exercise
        police power in the area where the violation occurred. If the
        police officer believes that the report established a
        sufficient basis for the issuance of a citation, the officer
        shall file a citation and a copy of the report with the
    ;     issuing authority. If the issuing authority determines that
        the report and citation establish a sufficient basis for the
        issuance of a summons, a summons shall be issued in
        accordance with general rules governing the institution of
        proceedings in summary traffic offense cases. The issuing
        authority shall send the defendant a copy of the citation,
        together with a statement that it was filed by the police
        officer named in the citation on the basis of information
            (3)  A person may institute a proceeding pursuant to this
        subsection or in accordance with any means authorized by the
Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
        (e)  Fines to be doubled.--In addition to any penalty as
     provided in subsection (b), the fine for any of the following
     violations when committed in an emergency response area manned
     by emergency service responders shall be double the usual
            Section 3102 (relating to obedience to authorized persons
        directing traffic).
            Section 3111 (relating to obedience to traffic-control
        ; devices).
            Section 3114 (relating to flashing signals).
            Section 3302 (relating to meeting vehicle proceeding in
        opposite direction).
            Section 3303 (relating to overtaking vehicle on the
            Section 3304 (relating to overtaking vehicle on the
            Section 3305 (relating to limitations on overtaking on
        the left).
            Section 3306 (relating to limitations on driving on left
         side of roadway).
            Section 3307 (relating to no-passing zones).
            Section 3310 (relating to following too closely).
            Section 3312 (relating to limited access highway
        entrances and exits).
            Section 3323 (relating to stop signs and yield signs).
            Section 3325 (relating to duty of driver on approach of
        emergency vehicle).
            Section 3361 (relating to driving vehicle at safe speed).
          &nbs p; Section 3707 (relating to driving or stopping close to
        fire apparatus).
            Section 3710 (relating to stopping at intersection or
        crossing to prevent obstruction).
            Section 3714 (relating to careless driving).
            Section 3736 (relating to reckless driving).
            Section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of
        alcohol or controlled substance).
        (e.1)  Public awareness.--The department shall educate the
     public of the provisions of this section as it deems
     appro priate.
        (f)  Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
     words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
        "Emergency response area."  The area in which emergency
     service responders render emergency assistance to individuals on
     or near a roadway or a police officer is conducting a traffic
     stop or systematic check of vehicles as long as the emergency
     vehicle is making use of visual signals meeting the requirements
     of subchapter D of Chapter 45.
        "Emergency service responder."  An individual acting in an
     official capacity as police officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff,
     coroner, deputy coroner, firefighter, fire police, fire marshal,
     medical examiner, deputy medical examiner, rescue personnel,
     ambulance personnel, towing and recovery personnel, highway
     maintenance and construction personnel, hazardous material
     response team member or emergency medical service personnel.
        "Serious injury."  A personal injury resulting in death,
     serious impairment of body function or permanent serious


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