A Letter from Fayetteville Public Utilities' CEO/General Manager, Britt Dye

Remembering why we move over

Brit Dye, CEO


Tennessee’s Move Over Law is not a new piece of legislation. In fact, the original Move Over Law for our state passed in 2006 requiring motorists to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic, when safe to do so, or alternatively to slow down for emergency vehicles.

In 2011, the law was expanded to also protect utility service crews and equipment from passing motorists.

Tennessee’s Move Over Law was established to protect those who protect and serve us as public employees. Included, but not limited to this group of emergency workers, are police, firefighters, other emergency personnel like ambulance, wrecker and utility workers.

Here in Tennessee, the penalty for violating the Move Over Law is a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail. But the harshest penalties are the tragic outcomes and “near misses”
that result when motorists fail to move over and create a safety zone for emergency and utility workers alike.

Over the years, we’ve heard about many police officers and highway maintenance workers who have been injured or killed while on their jobs assisting others - struck by passing motorists who neglected to slow down or move over.

In our community of utility workers, there are countless stories of close calls and injuries due to motorists failing to move over when passing crews as they worked alongside the road.

At a neighboring utility, an employee was struck by a passing vehicle, thrown onto the hood and windshield of a passing car and then into the air. The accident required major surgery to the utility employee’s ankle and foot which required pins, screws and a 6-inch rod.

Another story tells of a motorist crashing just behind an electric crew’s bucket truck, almost hitting the two servicemen on the job site.

Others tell of how closely vehicles drive to their work areas, hitting the safety cones and clipping the truck’s outriggers that support the truck.

Many times, FPU’s electric, gas, water and wastewater maintenance crews must work in the middle of the street or along sidewalks to repair utility lines. Their close proximity makes them vulnerable to motorists who are distracted and do not yield to the law.

I strongly urge you to remember the Move Over Law and use extreme caution when passing emergency and utility crews in our community and abroad. Our jobs, by nature, place us in dangerous situations as we work on electric and telecom lines and buried gas, water and wastewater lines. The work our crews do places them in even more dangerous situations when they must work beside passing traffic.

Please help keep our crews safe as they work to provide safe, reliable utility service to you and your family.