• February 23, 2017

New law requires drivers to change lanes or reduce speed when TxDOT workers, vehicles in area

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 4:30 am

Drivers who don’t move over a lane or slow down for Texas Department of Transportation workers and equipment will be breaking a new Texas law.

The law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, provides TxDOT workers with the same protection that police, fire and emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, have had since June 2012.

Violators could be fined up to $2,000, and if someone is hurt or there is property damage, the punishment also may include jail time.

The Move Over/Slow Down law requires drivers to move over or slow down when they see TxDOT workers and vehicles stopped with their flashing blue or amber lights on.

If the driver’s vehicle is in the lane closest to the TxDOT workers or vehicles, the driver must move over a lane or slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. If there aren’t multiple lanes, the driver has to slow down and, if the posted speed limit is 25 mph or less, the driver has to slow down to 5 mph.

Some statistics were highlighted by TxDOT in regard to the 134 fatalities in construction and maintenance zones in 2012:

  • Four of five fatalities in work zones are motorists.
  • One of three accidents are from rear-end collisions.
  • Forty-nine percent of the 134 work-zone fatalities in Texas in 2012 were related to drugs or alcohol.
  • Seventy-five percent of people killed in work zones in 2012 were men.
  • Of the people killed in work zones in 2012, 43 percent were younger than 35.
  • A total of 271 TxDOT employees have died in work zones since 1938.

Five TxDOT worker fatalities were reported in the last 10 years. The most recent was an employee who was part of a road crew in El Paso who was struck and killed by a motorist in June, said Jodi Wheatley, TxDOT spokeswoman.

If a speed limit sign is white with black numbers, the speed was posted by the Texas Transportation Commission and can be enforced even if no construction activity is visible.

Traffic fines double in work zones when workers are there, even if the driver can’t see them.

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  • wilcfry posted at 11:13 am on Sat, Aug 17, 2013.

    wilcfry Posts: 93

    I agree; the law would be simpler to write and easier to remember if it was just anyone on the side of the road. And it would make more sense that way, since non TxDOT people are just as (more?) likely to be a hazard.

    Additionally, the "blue or amber lights" do not identify TxDOT workers, as the article suggests. Apparently, all kinds of non-government vehicles are allowed to display flashing blue/amber/red lights in Texas (this isn't true in all states where I've lived). It seems just about any contractor or work truck alongside the highway is allowed to display them, and some drive around with the lights flashing all the time. Dozens of times, I've assumed it was an official vehicle until I pulled alongside and saw that it was just a self-important small businessman.

  • Dann0 posted at 11:34 pm on Wed, Aug 14, 2013.

    Dann0 Posts: 1

    I agree, that anything stopped on the shoulder is a hazard.
    The lobbyists wanted people to slow down for government workers.
    So, the legislature passed a law, requiring motorists to remember new
    rules, when government workers are present, and the citizens be damned.
    How many of us subjects have been injured or killed, while changing a tire?
    It seems to be all about those who have influence in Austin... NOT the voters.
    Why not simply require "move over or slow down" if ANY hazards (such as cyclists,
    school kids, and disabled cars) are alongside the road?
    And, tow those broken down cars now...
    instead of letting them cause a roadside hazard for weeks.

  • Bubba posted at 4:46 pm on Wed, Aug 14, 2013.

    Bubba Posts: 844

    Let's focus on getting Texans to get out of the left lane unless they can use it correctly.