Tuesday, July 7

Move Over to Keep Utility Workers Safe

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Tennessee’s “Move Over” law was passed in 2006 to protect first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Five years later, in 2011, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives led an effort to revise the law to include utility workers as well.

It may surprise you that utility workers have the same roadside protection as other first responders. Here’s why:

Tennessee’s electric co-op utility workers have an important job. They keep the power flowing to more than 1 million Tennessee homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. Our communities depend on them to for education, healthcare, commerce and connectivity.

They also have a very dangerous job — in fact, utility lineworker is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Heights, high voltage and inclement weather all contribute to the danger of their jobs, but the most dangerous thing they do has little to do with electricity.

Working near passing traffic is one of the riskiest things lineworkers do. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to keep them safe.

The requirements of Tennessee’s move over law are simple. On a four-lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights should move into the far lane. On a two-lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver must reduce his or her speed.

If you’re driving on Tennessee roads and you approach a utility vehicle stopped on the shoulder with its flashing lights activated, slow down and move over. It is common courtesy, and it could save a life.

You can learn more about Tennessee’s move over law at moveovertennessee.org.

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About Author

Trent Scott

Trent Scott serves as vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. In this role, he coordinates the corporate communication efforts of TECA and The Tennessee Magazine and provides assistance to member utilities. Trent holds an undergraduate degree in marketing from Freed-Hardeman University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee. Trent and his wife, Suzanne, have two children and live in Henderson.

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