Another significant step to ensure the safety of ITD employees working on the roadsides will take place July 1 as the “Move Over” law is expanded in Idaho to include responders to a roadside emergency, such as highway workers.
The existing law, from 2006, already gives protections to police by requiring motorists to move over for law-enforcement personnel operating with flashing lights. Now drivers must also move over for other emergency responders to traffic incidents, too, such as ITD’s workers and tow truck operators using flashing lights in a stationary position.
“The expansion of the ‘Move Over’ Law to include highway workers makes an inherently risky job safer for our staff,” said Jerry Wilson, ITD Operations Engineer in North Idaho. “At highway speeds, it only takes a split second for an accident to happen, so making some space to allow our crews to maintain the roads makes the highways safer, both for us and the traveling public.”
ITD’s Incident Response unit in the Treasure Valley is an obvious beneficiary, but the expansion of the law also extends protections to our maintenance workers removing tires, animal carcasses or other objects from the road, filling potholes, fixing guardrail, and other common activities that benefit the safety and mobility of motorists.
“We really appreciate the courtesy of other drivers who slow down and move over to give us a safer space to do our jobs,” said ITD Treasure Valley Incident Response driver Kyle Wright. “That buffer of space makes a big difference. The less we have to worry about vehicles moving past us, the more we’re able to focus on the incidents we’re working on, and hopefully remedy them more safely and quickly.”
Emergency Services Manager Neal Murphy spearheaded ITD’s efforts this year to have the “Move Over” expansion considered by lawmakers. The bill was brought forward by Rep. John McCrostie of Boise.
Vehicles pass by ITD workers every day on state highways or the interstate at 60-80 mph or more. The sudden gush of air from the passing motorist or the rocking of the ITD vehicle as a semi passes by is a sober reminder that death or serious injury is only feet away.
“Since passage of the expanded law this spring, I have noted some voluntary compliance by the public for highway workers as well as disabled travelers along the roadside,” said ITD southeast Idaho Operation Engineer Steve Gertonson. “This is a positive outcome and a win-win situation for both the workers and the public.”