Keep Moving Over: General Assembly Expands Highway Safety Law

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North Carolina drivers will soon have to move over more often or face a $250 fine. The General Assembly voted this week to expand the Move Over law to include utility and road maintenance crews. The penalty will remain a fine; the driver will not be cited for a moving violation.

The Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes or slow down when emergency crews are performing roadside duties. Typically, a move over law covers police, fire and emergency medical personnel. These workers can easily be struck by passing vehicles; sadly, it happens often. To reduce the risk to emergency responders, then, drivers are required to give the workers a wider berth by moving over at least one lane. When moving over isn’t possible, drivers should slow down.

North Carolina has built on the basic move over idea by including emergency utility workers. The General Assembly amended the law a couple of years ago to include electric utility workers restoring power following an accident or a storm. Legislators realized that motorists have no way of knowing if the crew is working on a routine matter or an emergency outage, so this year’s amendment expands the law to cover all utility workers, storm or no storm, accident or no accident.

Road maintenance and construction crews will also be included. Legislators reasoned that the risk is just as great in emergency, short-term and long-term situations.

Police and state patrol are not shy when it comes to enforcing the law. Since 2002, more than 32,000 drivers have been convicted of failing to move over.

The law will take effect October 1, 2012, if the governor signs it.

Source: News & Observer, “Legislature protects more roadside workers under Move Over traffic safety law,” Bruce Siceloff, June 8, 2012