Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Legislation protects workers on roadside
By By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 15, 2013 at 3:15 a.m.
It's no secret, Texans like to drive fast - so much so that our legislature has raised the speed limit to 75 or 80 on highways and interstates. But with these increased speeds come increased safety concerns.
That's why we were glad to hear that, effective Sept. 1, Texas Department of Transportation workers have been added to the state's Move Over/Slow Down law. The law, which first became effective on Sept. 1, 2003, originally covered law enforcement, fire and emergency services personnel and vehicles. In 2011, tow trucks were added to the law. The Texas Transportation Code 545.157 says drivers approaching emergency vehicles with lights activated must either slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit or, if the roadway has multiple lanes going the same direction, move out of the closest lane.
We are glad to see this law has been amended to include TxDOT workers. But we wonder why this was not considered when the law was originally passed in 2003. Texas' network of roads, highways and interstates is an important tool that requires constant maintenance. These men and women work every day to make sure our roads are well maintained and safe for all travelers. But in order to best serve drivers and the state, TxDOT employees need a safe work environment. Safety is a difficult thing to maintain when workers must go out to narrow roads, two-lane highways or even interstates where drivers fly by at speeds of 70, 80 or more than 90 mph. This addition to legislation helps the state of Texas fulfill its obligation to its employees to better protect them as they do their job.
We encourage drivers across Texas to keep this important law in mind while driving. Please show respect toward these workers, tow trucks, law enforcement, fire and emergency services personnel. By taking this precaution, you could prevent a dangerous situation or major accident. These people are out there every day serving us. The least we can do is respect their personal safety.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.