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Move-over law expands to utility crews

Posted January 17, 2011

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— Forty-eight people died in workplace accidents in North Carolina in 2010 – many from being struck by an object – according to the state Department of Labor.

It’s a scary thought for utility crews who work alongside moving traffic, but a state law that went into effect Dec. 1 is aimed at helping to protect them.

It’s an expansion to the state’s move-over law, which requires motorists to move their vehicle away from the lane closest to a parked emergency vehicle.

“Over the number of years, the more traffic that’s come to the area, the more danger it’s put our employees in,” said Brian Hunt, a supervisor of construction and maintenance for Duke Energy. “We had a near miss here in the last week or so.”

Many people are still unaware of the change.

The law also requires motorists to slow down on two-lane roads where there isn’t another lane to drive in. They should also be prepared to stop.

Anyone found violating the new law could be fined $250 plus court costs.

Some utility workers say they haven’t seen many tickets written yet but are glad to know that law enforcement officers now have the authority to do so.

“It was a great day for us utility workers,” Hunt said.

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  • Vietnam Vet Jan 18, 2011

    "Lightfoot3
    I thought the law was move over OR slow down."
    That was my understanding of the law. Move over if there is a lane available to you or slow down if you must remain in the lane closest to the or stopped vehicles.

  • rroadrunner99 Jan 18, 2011

    It should be expanded to cover any vehicle stopped by the roadside changing flat's, with a person standing by the vehicle etc. I also think they should amend the cellphone law to completely outlaw them in the passenger compartment of a motorized vehicle! Since that law went into effect it seem's the use of them has quadrupled! And people wonder why and where roadrage comes from, you should get on I-40 behind someone on their cellphone sometimes. They forget they are driving, go into a phone trance it seem's.

  • Capt Mercury Jan 18, 2011

    It occurs to me that if people could (or would) just drive where they are supposed to, none of this would be necessary. If you work next to traffic, stay out of the traffic! If you drive next to roadside workers, stay on the road! And last but not least, HANG UP THE PHONE!!!!

  • I know some stuff Jan 18, 2011

    Lightfoot...I think you're right, BUT consider this >
    if you are on I-40, going with the flow at 65 mph, is slowing down to 55 adequate, or even safe (from the point of view of being rear ended or disrupting normal traffic flow)....or for the worker (getting hit at 55 is still dead)? Lot's of room for ambiguity. It's a law with good intentions, but hard to enforce, and hard to write so as to achieve it's objectives.

  • Aussielady Jan 18, 2011

    keeping_it_real_in_NC - Yep he did choose his career, just like a Highway Patrol officer chooses his career, and a DOT worker chooses his. Remember that the next time you break down on the side of the road and you are waiting for a tow truck driver to reach you, if they had chosen a different career then the wait would be that much longer for help to reach you.

    Anybody that works or finds themselves on the side of the road is in danger of being hit in the Triangle.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 18, 2011

    I thought the law was move over OR slow down.

  • I know some stuff Jan 18, 2011

    I wish WRAL would include in this article, EXACTLY what the law states.
    I wonder how many 'near misses' occur, because a driver is so focused on figuring out how to move over, that he now is not watching ahead for the real hazard.....the worker near the traffic?? It's way smarter for the driver to pay extreme attention to workers near the traffic, and the workers should stay OUT of the travelled lane, of course. THEY still have responsibility too. This is not a free pass to walk anywhere. People's mis-understanding of this law, does cause this confusion.

  • sammyg Jan 18, 2011

    Keepin it real...the right lane is the new left lane. It angers me too!

  • jondoe Jan 18, 2011

    Makes sense to me. They have just as much right to be protected from stupid drivers as anyone else.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 18, 2011

    "Being the wife of someone that works on the side of the road towing broken down vehicles I am glad this law is in place."

    Awesome, someone played the moral equivancy card. She is morally superiour to speak on this because her husband CHOOSE a career to play in the streets. And, if you read my comments it was about the inconsiderate people that drive slow in the left lane talking on their cell phone.

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