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For the past few years, the focus of SERMA’s Safety Campaigns has been on driving safety in Maryland.
Maryland’s Move Over law was originally passed in 2010 to help protect police officers and first responders while stopped on the sides of highways assisting other motorists. It required motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulances, and others. It was expanded in 2014 and again in 2018 to include many other types of emergency vehicles, and fines grew progressively steeper for motorists caught violating the law.
However, in 2019, one year after its latest expansion, the Maryland State Police reported that many Maryland motorists were still unaware of the law. Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responders and a leading cause of death for police officers, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). “Public-sector law enforcement, firefighting and prevention personnel, and ambulance crews regularly risk harm to themselves to protect the public,” states the organization.
IWIF partnered with the Maryland State Police, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) to raise awareness about the importance of Maryland’s Move Over law. IWIF champions workplace safety, no matter where that workplace might be. For many emergency workers, that workplace is often along Maryland’s busiest highways as they assist stranded motorists or those involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Outreach on the part of several Maryland State agencies in support of the move over public law included news releases, public service announcements, and social media posts. Additionally, we created several educational materials in support of SERMA’s public service campaign, to include:
Maryland State Police troopers handed out the pamphlets during traffic stops to encourage citizens to learn and understand the importance of Maryland’s move over law. To date, some 250,000 of these pamphlets have been printed and distributed, and an MSP representative reports that, “The public is increasingly aware of the law.”
IWIF/Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance won two public relations awards in 2020 for its part in the SERMA Safety Campaign to raise awareness about Maryland’s Move Over law. The two first-place “Best in Maryland” awards were presented by the Public Relations Society of America’s Maryland Chapter to members of Chesapeake Employers’ Communications Department in a virtual ceremony in December 2020.