I was in a bit of a pickle the other day. Driving down Route 32 in Newburgh, NY, I was stuck behind a garbage truck with trash escaping out its top as it sped down the road (below). I wanted to pass, but something made me pause... was it legal to pass a garbage truck in New York?

Surprisingly, the answer isn't as simple as you might think. With recent updates to New York's Move Over Law, which designates certain vehicles as "hazard vehicles", garbage trucks have entered a new class. Here's what the law says.

Can you legally pass a garbage truck in New York state? Here's what the law says
Can you legally pass a garbage truck in New York state? Here's what the law says (TSM Poughkeepsie)
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Passing "Hazard Vehicles" in New York State

"Hazard vehicles" were redefined to give a wider variety of drivers extra protection when doing their jobs. The original legislation, enacted in 2012, called for drivers to give extra space to vehicles like police cars, firetrucks, and tow trucks when they were pulled over on the shoulder of the road. In 2016, the "hazard vehicle" definition expanded to include garbage trucks.

By law, New York drivers are required to give extra space to "hazard vehicles". Garbage trucks were included in that definition in 2016 (Canva)
By law, New York drivers are required to give extra space to "hazard vehicles". Garbage trucks were included in that definition in 2016 (Canva)
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Can You Pass a Garbage Truck in New York State?

Since 2016, drivers have been required to give the same space to a garbage truck that is pulled off to the side of the road that they would to a police officer writing somebody a ticket or a tow truck driver helping a stranded vehicle (on a multi-lane highway, this means a full lane's width). This year, the "move over law" has expanded even further.

Legally, New York drivers can pass any vehicle as long as conditions permit
Legally, New York drivers can pass any vehicle as long as conditions permit (TSM Poughkeepsie)
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"Move Over Law" in New York State

As of March 27 2024, all vehicles pulled off to the side of the road, including private cars and motorcycles, should be given the same space by drivers as hazard vehicles when permitted. "If you see that you are approaching a disabled vehicle, slow down and move over as best you can to give them some space", said Governor Kathy Hochul. But are there any vehicles you can't pass?

READ: The Most Dangerous, Confusing, & Worst Roads in the Hudson Valley

A possibly counterintuitive fact is that New York drivers can pass any vehicle, as long as conditions permit. Police cars, school buses, fire trucks - and even garbage trucks - can all be passed if other rules of the road (speeding, crossing a double yellow line, observing a stopped bus or vehicle in a crosswalk) are followed.

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With the correct rules of the road in your back pocket, it's time to hit the highway! Plan some of the most interesting road trips in New York state below.

Road Trip Through New York's Ice Cream Trail

Did you know there's an ice cream trail here in the great state of New York? Yup. Created by Only In Your State, the trail takes you all throughout the Adirondacks, allowing you to "take in the sights of our tallest mountains and some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of New York" while licking your favorite kind of ice cream.

Hop aboard the New York Ice Cream Trail!

Gallery Credit: Dave Wheeler

Take a Weekend Road Trip to These 10 Unusual Landmarks in New York

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