(Austin) KXAN — An update to Texas’ existing Move Over/Slow Down law took effect on Sept. 1. The update adds utility service vehicles to the list of vehicles which, if seen on the side of the road, passing drivers must either move over one lane or slow down to a minimum speed.
The original law was passed in 2003. Since then, the Move Over/ Slow Down driving behavior is required when drivers approach emergency vehicles, TxDOT vehicles and towing vehicles stopped on the side of the road with warning lights activated. The changes to the law now include utility service vehicles stopped on the side of the road restoring power, solid waste collection vehicles like recycling, composting and garbage trucks while in the process of collecting.
The addition of these vehicles comes after safety issues were identified during the extensive restoration work needed after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The Move Over/Slow Down law requires drivers on multi-lane roadways to merge away from a vehicle working on the side of the highway to provide an empty lane for the safety of the worker. If merging isn’t practical, drivers must reduce their speed by 20 miles per hour on highways.
Violations of the law can result in a fine of up to $200; the fine increases to $500 if there is property damage. If violators cause bodily injury, they can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, resulting in possible jail time and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Preliminary data from 2017 shows that DPS issued more than 10,650 warnings and citations to motorists violating the Move Over/Slow Down law.