Wyoming Department of Transportation employees who work on the sides of the road will now be covered by the state’s new Move Over law.
The new law goes into effect July 1 and requires that motorists move over for maintenance, construction and utility workers in addition to emergency responders like the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
“Maintenance, construction and utility workers need to have a safe work environment when they’re out on the job,” said WYDOT Director Bill Panos. “This new law ensures they have that so they can make it home safely every night. This new law will help us improve safety for everyone who either travels or works on our system.”
The new Move Over law requires motorists to do what they currently do when encountering an emergency vehicle that is pulled over on the side of the road.
When a construction, maintenance or utility vehicle is stopped on a road with two or more lanes traveling the same direction, motorists must move to the farthest lane away from the stopped vehicle.
On a two-lane road where speeds are 45 mph or greater, motorists must slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. Motorists can be fined $235 for failure to comply.
The new law may help prevent potential crashes that stem from travelers being too close to workers on the side of the road.
“We’ve had many vehicles that have been rear-ended or sideswiped because people didn’t move their vehicles over,” said Gregg Fredrick, WYDOT’s chief engineer. “This new law expands upon a law we already have to protect more workers. This shouldn’t really be a big impact to the traveling public as they’re already used to moving over for emergency vehicles.”
Tony Avila, area foreman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, knows firsthand how vital the new Move Over law is for WYDOT workers.
“Over the last 37 years of my career at WYDOT, I’ve seen a lot of close calls,” Avila said. “This new Move Over law is very important because it lets our employees know that it’s now safer for them. This law tells our employees that they matter and that we care about them getting home to their families safely.”
Although the law has always covered emergency responders, Patrol has still experienced collisions from inattentive drivers who failed to move over.
Since 2016, vehicles have hit 12 patrol cars stopped at the roadside. As a way to help remind the public about the importance of moving over, some Patrol cars have a decal on the rear window that says, “Save a Life, Move Over.”
“Motorists can do their part by not only following the requirements of the new law but also by not driving distracted,” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Col. Kebin Haller. “When you drive distracted, you’re not fully aware of your surroundings. Motorists need to put all distractions away, especially cellphones, and just concentrate on driving.”