Federal Affairs Director Coby Chase with Commissioner Jeff Austin’s Aide Caroline Love
John Obr, Ken Barnett and Alfonso Fernandez El Paso Area Meeting
For those who work dangerously close to speeding traffic in work zones, one of the most important laws to pass the 83rd Texas Legislative session was the expansion of the state’s Move Over/Slow Down law.
Move Over/Slow Down traditionally required drivers to yield to police, fire, and emergency vehicles. The law has now been expanded to include TxDOT vehicles working without a standard work zone set up such as concrete barriers, barrels or orange cones. To help the traveling public understand what is expected, TxDOT vehicles will use overhead flashing blue warning light systems, in additional to amber lights, when the requirement to move over or slow down applies.
It is important to limit when we add the flashing blue lights, otherwise, the public will be confused about the new law.
The use of warning lights is an effective means of gaining the travelling public’s attention. However, the overuse of blue warning lights can minimize their effectiveness. Our contracting partners should be diligent about avoiding the overuse of blue lights as well.
We can all play a part in sending a clear message to the travelling public by being consistent in adding blue lights when high-risk roadway maintenance and construction activities are taking place. We must also refrain from leaving the blue lights engaged while travelling from one work location to another, or while parked on the right of way away from the pavement or a work zone.
Since the law went into effect September 1, motorists must move out of the lane closest to the TxDOT vehicle located in work zones that are not protected by a standard work zone set up. If the road does not offer multiple lanes, the drivers must reduce their speeds to 20 mph below the posted limit. Violators can be fined up to $2,000.
Other important results of the recent legislative session include the opportunity for Texas voters in November 2014 to consider a constitutional amendment to allocate a portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund (economic stabilization fund) to the state highway fund. In addition, $225 million was appropriated for energy sector-impacted roads.
TxDOT stands prepared to utilize funding made available to us as we continue to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas.