Enacted on March 22, 2009, the Massachusetts “Move Over Law” was established in an effort to make police, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck drivers, and all roadside emergency and maintenance professionals feel safer on the road. Now, National Grid officials want utility vehicles to be protected under the law as well.
Filed by State Rep. Harold Naughton, the new bill (H 3054) requires that drivers slow down and move a lane over (if possible) when approaching a stationary emergency or utility vehicle with flashing lights on a highway. The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Transportation.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that at a Transportation Committee hearing on Oct. 20, the National Grid's safety program manager for U.S. operations John Cameron stated that, "One thing we can't control is the motorists … We've seen this Move Over Law as a next step to prevent serious injuries or fatalities."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 33 utility workers were killed on the job in 2014. A “Fatal Injuries at Work” report done by the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services states that there were 8 total fatalities in the Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities industries in 2013.
Massachusetts isn’t the only state that has made the move to protect utility workers; the bill is similar to an addition made to the previously existing law in Tennessee in 2011. Florida joined the states that have included utility workers in their version of the law back in 2014.
Failure to disobey this law in Massachusetts can result in up to a $100 fine.