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New 'Move Over' law may decrease roadside worker accidents

Behind the wheel, drivers often may forget that they are actually in control of tons of steel, and if they are not aware of their surroundings, they risk seriously injuring themselves and others. North Carolina's new Move Over law went into effect recently in an attempt to reduce the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving maintenance or construction workers.

Previously, the law applied only to those vehicles that were stopped on the side of the road in order to clear the road and guide traffic if needed, such as law enforcement vehicles, tow trucks and emergency responders. The new law requires motorists to either switch lanes or slow down when approaching maintenance crews or roadside utility crews flashing amber lights. Unfortunately, the first workplace accident that occurred after the law came into effect happened all too soon, just one day after the law went into effect.

A North Carolina Department of Transportation worker was removing a fallen tree from the road when a pick-up truck struck him Oct. 2. The 55-year-old worker died at the scene of the accident. The worker was working in the northbound lane and had parked his truck in the southbound lane of a two-lane highway. His truck was flashing its amber light, according to a trooper.

Not only was it dark when the accident took place, but it was also raining. The driver was not speeding nor was he intoxicated at the time of the accident, and no charges have been filed against him yet.

This is the third DOT fatality this year and it brings to attention the risks involved with working on the side of the road as vehicles speed by. Drivers should be aware of changing road conditions to ensure workers' safety to the best of their ability.

Those workers who are injured in these types of accidents may be able to file a workers' compensation or personal injury claim to recover medical expenses and replace lost wages.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, "DOT worker hit, killed by vehicle in Watauga," Jennifer Young, Oct. 2, 2012

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