Effective Sept. 1, there's a new requirement for Texas drivers.
The state’s Move Over/Slow Down law, which traditionally has required drivers to yield to police, fire and emergency vehicles, has now been expanded to provide that same protection for Texas Department of Transportation workers. Beginning Sept. 1, all drivers must move over or slow down when approaching TxDOT workers and vehicles that are stopped with overhead flashing blue or amber lights.

Or, you can pay up to $2,000 in fines.

“We are very pleased the Legislature recognizes the dangers our employees face each day while working to maintain and build the state’s vast highway network,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT’s executive director, noting that more than 100 TxDOT employees working in construction areas have been struck and killed by motorists since 1938. “We are hopeful that this new protection for our crews will lead to fewer preventable deaths and injuries.”

The new addition to the Move Over law requires motorists to move out of the lane closest to the TxDOT vehicle when possible or reduce their speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted limit. If the road does not offer multiple lanes, the driver must slow down. On roadways with posted speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less, drivers must reduce their speed to 5 miles per hour. And it's worth repeating: violators can be fined up to $2,000.

The Houston Chronicle noted that for road workers, however, the penalty can be much more severe if it leads to disaster, TxDOT Deputy Director John Barton said.

Barton knows first-hand, he said, as a former co-worker of Jeff McNeil, a Beaumont TxDOT worker who was killed in 2005.

“A distracted motorist swerved over and hit and killed him,” Barton said.

Requiring drivers to give TxDOT workers more room will hopefully keep traffic moving while providing a safe buffer, officials said.

“We are hopeful that this new protection for our crews will lead to fewer preventable deaths and injuries,” TxDOT Director Phil Willon said.

Radio announcements and statewide billboards will help raise awareness of the new Move Over/Slow Down law.