If you see police, firefighters, utility crews or other emergency personnel on the side of the road, please slow down and move over when possible.
It’s hard work repairing and maintaining the lines that bring you power. It can also be dangerous, especially when linework takes place alongside busy roads. Every year, workers along the sides of roads are injured or killed when a car crashes into the crew’s site, even though it’s marked with bright cones and warning signs. There’s an easy way to reduce those incidents that harm police officers, first responders, road construction workers and utility crews. There’s a slogan to help remind drivers. There’s even a law.
The slogan is “Move Over or Slow Down.” It’s good advice and a decent thing to do to keep people safe. It’s also a requirement in all 50 states. Legislatures first started passing Move Over laws about 25 years ago to reduce the statistics of harm to roadside emergency workers. In the past five years, states have started to specifically add electric and other utility projects to their Move Over or Slow Down laws.
Missouri added utility vehicles to its law in 2017. It’s an addition that’s welcomed by your local electric cooperative because they were part of the effort to expand the law to help protect line crews.
Protecting line crews is a top priority for Missouri’s electric cooperatives, and it’s a safety measure everyone can help with, says Caleb Jones, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. “Move Over is not only a good law, it’s also the courteous thing to do. Our crews already perform dangerous work to keep the lights on. They deserve a work environment that’s as safe as possible.”
Missouri’s “Move Over” law requires motorists to do the following:
- Slow down and move over if traveling on a four-lane road.
- If a lane change is not possible, motorists must proceed with caution and slow down as they drive through the work zone, maintaining a safe speed for traffic conditions.
Electric utility crews are special cases to watch out for. A study of utility work site accidents found the relatively temporary nature of power line repairs could surprise motorists. Roadside construction might close a lane for days or weeks, giving time for people familiar with the area to anticipate the changed traffic pattern. Utility work, however, can start and finish in a few hours, possibly raising risks with drivers who might think they know the road ahead.
Another risk to watch for is when work sites are being put up or taken down. Roadside accidents can happen as crews are setting up signs and traffic cones.
Don’t drive distracted. Put your phone down while driving. Drive according to road conditions. Be courteous to work crews and stopped first responders. Watch the signs and obey them. And certainly, follow Missouri’s Move Over Law.
It’s good advice that could save a life.