Please Move Over for Roadside Crews
Help give utility crews a work environment that's as safe as possibleBy Farris Leonard
Every year, workers along roadsides are injured or killed by vehicles crashing into crew sites, even when the sites are marked with bright cones and warning signs.
Protecting line crews is a top priority for North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, and it’s a safety measure everyone can help with. In 2002, North Carolina’s Move Over law took effect, requiring motorists, if they can safely do so, to move one lane away from any law enforcement, other emergency vehicles and utility vehicles that are on the side of the highway.
Move Over is not only a good law, it’s also the courteous thing to do. Our crews already perform hazardous work to keep the lights on every day. They deserve a work environment that’s as safe as possible.
And electric utility crews are special cases to watch out for: the relatively temporary nature of powerline repairs can surprise motorists. A roadside construction operation might close a lane for days or weeks, giving time for people familiar with the area to anticipate the changed traffic pattern. Utility work, however, can start and finish in a few hours or less, possibly raising risks with drivers who might think they know the road ahead.
Here are some things to be mindful of while driving:
- Depending on duration and location of equipment and worker position, a work zone may be set up to provide visual warnings and guidance for the driver. These temporary work zones will have advanced warning signs 200 to 500 feet before roadside work depending on the posted speed limit.
- Drivers must obey all traffic directions posted as part of a worksite, including by a designated flagger.
- On a roadway that has at least two lanes traveling in the same direction, when approaching a utility vehicle positioned off the highway displaying amber warning lights, a vehicle must move over to the lane away from utility vehicle if it is safe to do so.
- On a two-lane, two-way roadway, when approaching a utility vehicle positioned off the highway displaying amber warning lights, a vehicle must slow down and be prepared to stop. If there is no approaching vehicle from the opposite direction and it is safe to do so, move over until past the utility vehicle.
- In North Carolina, the penalty for violating Move Over law requirements can be up to a $500 fine, along with the possibility of being charged with a felony if a collision occurs that results in serious injury or death.
Most importantly, don’t drive distracted. Drive according to the conditions of the road. Be courteous to roadside work crews. Watch the signs and obey them. And certainly, follow guidance established by our state’s Move Over law. It’s good advice, and it could save a life.
About the AuthorFarris Leonard is director of Job Training & Safety Field Services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.