Waco: Expanded move-over law protects utility, sanitation workers

An expanded Texas law originally intended to protect first responders and later wrecker drivers on the sides of highways now also requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching utility or garbage vehicles with amber lights flashing. (Oncor photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) An expanded Texas law originally intended to protect first responders and later wrecker drivers on the sides of highways now also requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching utility or garbage vehicles with amber lights flashing.

"These vehicles are typically going to have just amber and we want the travelling public to respond to that," Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Ken Roberts said.

"Anytime you have a vehicles pulled over individuals that are out there working and got their lights activated somethings going on and it's not one of those where we really want to draw traffic to them, we want to move it away which allows them to work within their space safely," Roberts says.

When emergency lights or amber lights are flashing on roadsides, motorists must either slow down by 20 miles per hour or move into another lane away from the vehicles.

"These vehicles are these workers on the side of the road and we want to make sure that they get to go home to their families, so we ask everybody to be safe,” Roberts said.

"There have been over the years, too many catastrophes, too many fatalities, too many injuries that have occurred because the traveling public is not paying attention. They don't move over at times," Roberts said.

The latest expansion to the 2003 law went into effect on Sept. 1.

The penalties for ignoring it can be steep.

“If you receive a citation for it can be $200 fine,” Department of Public Safety Sgt. Ryan Howard said.

“If there's property damage could be a fine up to $500 and of course if somebody receives bodily injury it could be a fine up for $2000 or 180 days in jail,” he said.