POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 5:56pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 9:48pm
PHARR, TX (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — The end of August means the start of a new law for Texas drivers.
Beginning September 1, the Texas Department of Transportation is enacting the "Move Over or Slow Down" law to protect their employees working on the side of the road. Drivers must either move over to a farther lane or reduce their speed by 20 mph when passing TxDOT maintenance workers.
"This 'Move Over or Slow Down' law is going to protect them as they're doing their job to protect the traveling public, working in an environment where we don't have traffic control in place," said John Barton, Deputy Executive Director for TxDOT. "But it gives them a chance to be recognized and noticed and to give them an opportunity to do their job safely.
103 TxDOT workers have been killed since 1993, and in the past 10 years five employees died on the job. Additionally, 107 workers were injured in the last 20 years. This summer marks the most recent fatality of a road worker being struck by a vehicle.
"Most recently in El Paso in June we lost another employee," said Elizabeth Paradise, Public Information Officer for TxDOT in Pharr. "[Workers] were out on the roadway, and a car ran into him."
Drivers who refuse to slow down or move over for TxDOT maintenance workers could face some hefty financial consequences. But TxDOT believes it's better this price be paid than risking the lives of their employees.
"Violators of this law can receive up to $500 for violations of not slowing down or moving over when it's safe to do so," Paradise said.
A $2,000 fine will exist for travelers who injure a maintenance worker with their vehicle. TxDOT is hoping that common sense is already playing a factor in drivers following this new law.
"I think more and more when cars are seeing amber lights on the side they are moving over, and this is just a way to remind them."