Are Michigan Drivers Legally Required to Pull Over For Emergency Vehicles on the Freeway?
You may think the answer is clear, but there's actually some confusion when it comes to the "Move Over" laws in Michigan. For example, I recently found myself in the middle of a high-speed chase and wasn't sure what to do! Apparently I wasn't the only one.
On the evening of Wednesday, May 17 I was traveling along US-131 from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids. The drive itself was nothing out of the ordinary-- until I saw lots of flashing lights coming up quickly behind me!
Grand Rapids Reddit user u/happyjackassiam inquired about the incident asking,
Anyone know why Michigan State Police had 6 cruisers barreling north on 131 (I saw them between m6 and 54th) around 6:30 this evening. All in a line with lights on? Just seemed excessive for a Wednesday rush
Now, I was under the impression that as long as emergency vehicles have a clear lane all to themselves then drivers should reduce their speed, of course, but they are able to continue driving in the right hand lane.
However, most drivers in my situation quickly made their way over to the shoulder and came to a complete stop-- which was easier said than done at 70+ miles per hour! It all happened so fast and it was a bit chaotic. To me, stopping seemed more dangerous than giving the troopers some room.
So, Who's Right?
According to Michigan vehicle code,
The driver of another vehicle shall yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and shall stop and remain in that position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
Is There An Exception for Freeways?
It turns out the only real exception involves divided highways. For example, when there is a barrier separating the two roadways, drivers on the opposite side of the emergency vehicle are not required to stop.
Michigan State Police (MSP) have covered this situation in the past saying,
We have gotten some questions lately about what to do when an emergency vehicle is approaching...do you stop on the freeway? There is no exceptions for the freeway. However, most drivers don't hear the vehicle in time to actually stop the car. If you are on the freeway, pull off to the right and if the emergency vehicle has not passed you yet, go ahead and stop.
So there you have it! In nearly all situations Michigan drivers are required to pull over and stop. However what bugs me most is I still have no idea what MSP were chasing that evening-- and I may never know!