It's not only flowers and trees that burst into bloom in April. Orange warning signs and safety cones dramatically increase along our roadways as the cold weather of winter gives way to the warming temperatures of spring. While you mostly think of road maintenance crews when you see those orange signs and cones, other workers, including utility workers and tree-trimming crews, also perform their job duties along local roads.
Utility poles and electrical equipment frequently line our local streets and highways. Narrow roadways and berms mean line crews often must place their vehicles and equipment in travel lanes. Vehicles traveling too fast or too close to a utility truck can cause the truck to vibrate, which in turn can cause an extended bucket to sway. This is extremely dangerous for the crew member in the bucket, especially when working near energized power lines.
Help give lineworkers and other roadside crews a safe workplace. Their work to restore service and to increase reliability benefits all of us. Be alert for their safety and your own.
Pennsylvania's Move Over Law goes into effect on April 27. The law requires drivers to move over to a non-adjacent lane when coming upon emergency response vehicles (including police, fire, and ambulance), tow trucks, maintenance vehicles, utility vehicles, and trash or recycling trucks. If it is not possible, legal, or safe to merge away from an emergency response area, then drivers must slow down to at least 20 mph lower than the posted speed limit.
According to PennDOT, an emergency response area is "where an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing, or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares, posted signs, or try to warn travelers." The law also applies to disabled vehicles when at least two of the following conditions are present: vehicular hazard signal lamps, caution signs, or traffic control devices like road flares.
Fines for not complying with the law are $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second offense. For a third or subsequent offense, the penalty is a $2,000 fine and a 90-day driver license suspension.
To help keep emergency and roadside workers safe:
- Move over to a travel lane that is not next to the workers.
- If unable to move over safely or legally, slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
- Obey all signs and all instructions from workers directing traffic.
- Turn on your headlights while in a work zone.
- Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and all traffic barriers, emergency vehicles, trucks, equipment, and workers.
- Be courteous to other drivers.
- Avoid distractions such as eating, grooming, texting, using a hand-held phone, and operating a radio or entertainment system while driving.
Please slow down and move over for everyone -- first responders, road crews, tow truck operators, refuse collectors, and utility workers -- who must do their jobs on or along the side of the road. They have loved ones waiting for them at home.