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.