‘Move Over Law’ Expanded to Protect Safety of Electric Utility Employees

In July, North Carolina lawmakers expanded the state’s ‘move over law’ to include electric utility vehicles restoring power and responding to other emergencies on the sides of roadways.

The ‘move over law’ requires motorists to slow down and cautiously approach emergency vehicles with flashing lights, moving over one lane when possible.

This applies only if the roadway has at least two lanes for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle and if the approaching vehicle may change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.

If the roadway has only one lane for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle, or if the approaching vehicle may not change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic, motorists should slow down and maintain a safe speed for traffic conditions, and be prepared to stop until completely past the authorized emergency vehicle or public service vehicle.

Beginning in December, the law will encompass electric utility vehicles that are stopped, with amber lights flashing, on roadway shoulders.

The expanded law protects electric utility workers as they work to maintain power lines or restore power in local communities and along North Carolina’s highways. “Cooperative line crews work in difficult situations and weather conditions to make sure we all receive safe and reliable power,” said R.G. Brecheisen, CEO of Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation.

Strong storms like some that moved through our state this year can send trees and limbs crashing to the ground, bringing power lines with them. Although the law does not take effect until December 1, residents are encouraged to begin the practice of moving over and slowing down if they see an electric utility vehicle. This will help protect the safety of not only the workers, but also the drivers.

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bev Perdue on July 21, 2010. Violating the law can lead to a $500 fine when the law takes effect.

A Touchstone Energy Cooperative based in Hillsborough, Piedmont Electric is a nonprofit electric utility serving 32,000 consumers in parts of Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange and Person counties.