You are probably familiar with Maine's so-called "slow down, move over" law, where drivers are required to slow down and/or move over when emergency vehicles are in the breakdown lane. That includes police vehicles that have conducted a traffic stop, fire and rescue vehicles, and tow trucks.

It's a good rule of thumb to always do this no matter who or what is in the breakdown lane. Move to the left lane if possible or slow down to a safe speed to assure those that are stopped on the highway are as safe as can be.

Broken down car, standing on breakdown lane.
Patrick Daxenbichler

The Maine Legislature passed a bill in May that was signed into law by Governor Janet Mills that expands the already existing law to pertain to any disabled vehicle in the breakdown lane. The summary of the bill explains its purpose:

This bill requires the operator of a disabled motor vehicle on a public way to activate the motor vehicle's hazard lights and place warning devices such as a warning triangle or flares, if available, in a position to alert approaching motor vehicles. The bill also requires an operator of a motor vehicle to pass a disabled motor vehicle in a lane not adjacent to the disabled motor vehicle or, if not possible or safe to pass in that nonadjacent lane, to pass the disabled motor vehicle safely at a careful and prudent speed.

This is something I've always done anyway. No one needs cars speeding by them at 70+ miles per hour when they're trying to change a tire.

Now the problem is enforcing it. Already many drivers don't slow down in construction zones with lower speed limits that are there for the same reason as those people that are in the breakdown lane. If you're one of those people and don't move over or pass the vehicle and a safer speed, you could be fined a minimum of $275.

The law goes into effect this fall, but why wait? Start keeping others safe whose cars are disabled on the side of the road now. Move over or slow down. Or better yet, do both.

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