As utility crews repair electric and gas infrastructure with a focus on safety and achievement with a sense of urgency, they often find themselves working roadside – and uncomfortably close to drivers simply focused on urgently getting where they want to go.
Recent changes to a Florida law give utility crews a little more room to work safely. The Florida Move Over Act previously focused on emergency and law enforcement vehicles parked on the shoulder. Changes to the Move Over Act, which took effect in 2014, dictate that drivers who come upon a utility crew working just off a road must steer out of the lane closest to the crew. If this isn’t possible, drivers must reduce their speed by 20 miles per hour.
“We are all interested in the safety of our people; this law will provide an extra layer of protection,” said David Ware, manager of Fleet Services with Tampa Electric. “While our top priority is to prevent accidents – and our team members will need to remain vigilant – the law providing for more space between traffic and our people can only help.”
Safety Supervisor Shana Rini agreed.
“Driving is inherently dangerous, and with our ongoing efforts to keep team members as safe as possible, it’s great having support from our elected officials with a law that helps both drivers and our field personnel be more safe,” Rini said. “Increased public awareness of this new law will provide benefits to everyone.”
Like a growing number of team members in the field, Chris Furlow, utility technician with Peoples Gas, displays the Move Over Florida bumper sticker on the back of his fleet truck – and he said the law is one more tool to help him complete his job safely.
“A lot of us work in the field and we need to focus on getting the job itself done safely,” Furlow said. “It’s nice to have that extra cushion of safety, whether that means empty lanes between us and traffic or slower cars and trucks.”