DES MOINES, Iowa -- Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg officially named July 9 through 16 Move Over or Slow Down Awareness week.
Iowa legislature expanded the Move Over or Slow Down law on July 1 to include utility and maintenance vehicles.
“All 50 states have Move Over, Slow Down laws on the books but, only 12 specifically protect utility maintenance vehicles. Iowa’s expanded Move Over, Slow Down law is just another way our state is proactively cracking down on distracted driving,” Gregg said.
“Utility workers already have dangerous, high risk jobs. Moving over or slowing down protects not only those workers, but also everyone else on the road. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. It requires a commitment from every driver to watch out for each other and make sure everyone makes it home safely,” Reynolds said.
Jim Dougherty with MidAmerican Energy said about 500 pieces of equipment were hit by vehicles in 2017 thus far.
“We work at elevated heights quite frequently, linemen do. They mitigate those risks by the use of fall protection. And another risk is the safety risk around vehicles because many of our facilities are located in the public right-of-way, the road right-of-ways and you’ll notice them as you drive around obviously,” Dougherty said.
He added they use traffic control techniques and DOT resources to help, but the law is another diminishing tool.
Distracted driving is often a factor, even when workers are doing everything they can to be safe on the job.
"I think they wear their fluorescent colors so that you can see them. even though they are doing that sort of thing, a lot of times people look but they don't see anything. So you have to be aware of your surroundings and what's going on about you," Mark Ludwig with the Raccoon Valley Rural Electric Cooperative said.
The Safety Director Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives John Dvorak said he had a close call that resonated with him.
"I have actually been working and there was several vehicles approaching us in our work zone area. I could tell the cement truck, it was coming at us and it was going to hit the cones. And he just rolled right through our entire work area hitting all of our cones. It would have been great to have something like this then,” Dvorak said.
Reynolds and Gregg both signed a pledge Monday to Move Over or Slow Down for all emergency, utility and maintenance vehicles and the public is also welcome to sign it at MoveOverIowa.com.