13:20 PM

Move Over Law Helps Protect Emergency, Utility Workers

If you are driving on Georgia’s roads and see a first responder or utility vehicle stopped on the shoulder with its emergency strobe lights on, what should you do? Under the state’s Move Over Law, you should move over a lane or slow down to help keep crews safe.

Working alongside busy roadways to install or repair power lines or equipment is a dangerous part of the job for linemen. Move Over Laws, like those enacted in Georgia and across the U.S., help protect emergency and utility workers from passing vehicles while also protecting vehicles from accidents.

Q: What does it mean to ‘Move Over’?

A: In Georgia, drivers are required to “move over” one lane on the roadway when there are emergency or utility vehicles stopped on the side of the road and working in an official capacity. If you can’t move over a lane because it would be unsafe – because other vehicles are in the lane or you're on a two-lane road – then you’re required to slowdown to a “reasonable and proper speed” that’s less than the speed limit. In those cases, drivers should be prepared to stop.

Q: What situations does the law cover?

A: The state law applies to emergency vehicles using their flashing lights. This includes police vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, wrecker operators and highway maintenance operators. In 2016, utility linemen vehicles, like those used by Jackson EMC, were added to the law.

Q: Why was this law implemented?

A: The law is focused on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities of those working in a work zone on a road or highway. It can be very dangerous working on the side of the road, especially a busy one. In 2019, there were 38 workers who died from injuries they received while working in a roadwork zone, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. Georgia’s Move Over Law was passed after the number of police officers, firefighters, emergency technicians and DOT workers killed while working in work zones increased.

Q: How does the law help save lives?

A: Working in a work zone on a road or highway can be dangerous. From 2011 to 2015, 609 workers were killed from injuries at road work zones in the U.S., according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. By moving over a lane, or slowing down, drivers can give additional space to workers in areas where emergency personnel or utility workers are operating.

Q: What are the consequences if drivers don’t follow the Move Over Law?

A: According to Georgia’s Move Over Law, drivers who fail to obey the state law may face a fine up to $500.

To learn more, visit the governor's office of highway safety at gahighwaysafety.org.