Move Over Law Expanded in Tennessee
On July 1, Electric and other utility workers will be protected by Tennessee’s Move Over law
NASHVILLE – Legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 5 expands Tennessee’s Move Over law to include electric and other utility vehicles. Police, fire and highway construction vehicles were already covered before the law’s expansion. However, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and its member cooperatives recognized the need to include electric and other utility vehicles.
Effective July 1, motorists approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights are required to move over if safe to do so, creating an empty lane buffer. When changing lanes is not possible, motorists must reduce speed.
“Electric utility workers have a dangerous job,” says Mike Knotts, director of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, “and the expansion of the Move Over law makes their working environment safer.”
Roadway crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the United States. The Tennessee Department of Safety reports that more than 100 highway and street construction workers are killed each year as a result of vehicle crashes or equipment accidents on the job. Another 20,000 are injured.
[INSERT QUOTE FROM LOCAL UTILITY MANAGER ABOUT IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY. SAMPLE BELOW]
“The safety of our employees is a primary concern for us day in and day out,” says NAME, TITLE. “Working near high-voltage lines is hazardous, but passing vehicles increases the risk. This legislation will bring new awareness to our employees and allow them to complete their important duties with an added level of protection.
[INSERT QUOTE FROM LINEWORKER ABOUT THE DANGERS OF THE JOB AND THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE LEGISLATION OR USE DUCK RIVER STORY BELOW]
Tommy Campbell, a lineman for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Decherd, knows all too well the dangers of working near traffic. Campbell was struck by a vehicle while retrieving a tool from a bin on the side of his truck. The impact threw him over the hood and windshield of the oncoming vehicle and into the air before landing in the street. His injuries required major surgery.
“I knew my foot was severely injured,” says Campbell about the accident. “I worried I would not be able to climb poles anymore. My father was a lineman, and that is what I love doing.” Fortunately, Tommy resumed climbing poles one year after the accident.
“This is a great law for utility workers,” Campbell says. “We have to get the word out and make the public aware. Drivers must slow down when approaching utility vehicles.”
“We appreciate the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Haslam for protecting Tennessee’s utility workers, and we are especially grateful to Sen. Steve Southerland and Rep. Phillip Johnson for sponsoring the legislation on our behalf,” says Knotts.
The Tennessee law is the first-of-its-kind in the country. North Carolina’s Move Over law includes utility workers but only during emergency situations such as storm restoration. Tennessee’s law applies anytime utility vehicles are working with flashing lights.
Additional information on the Move Over expansion can be found at moveovertennessee.org.
Gerald Pritchard, a lineman for Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, checks for oncoming traffic while working near Henderson, Tennessee.
Electric utility workers are often required to work near traffic. An expansion of the Move Over law in Tennessee is designed to make their jobs safer.
Tommy Campbell, a lineman for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, was struck by a vehicle in 2006. He was severely injured in the accident.
Tennessee’s newly expanded Move Over law requires that motorists move over or slow down when approaching utility vehicles working on the roadside.