New ‘move over’ law will extend protections for roadway workers

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A new Wyoming law that takes effect July 1 will require motorists to move their vehicles over for people working along highways and interstates on construction, maintenance and utility projects.

Violators will face a $235 fine.

The new law aims to extend protections that are currently afforded to law enforcement vehicles and first-responders.

“It’s a very important piece of legislation that will help protect our maintenance, construction and utility crews,” said Aimee Inama, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation. “It’ll provide them a safe place to work.”

Shane Swilling, the Wyoming safety coordinator for Knife River Construction, said the new law will give law enforcement officers the authority they need to protect maintenance and construction crews.

Although none of the approximately 125 employees working for Knife River in Cheyenne have been hit by a vehicle during Swilling’s tenure as the safety director, a local crew member did experience a “near miss” with a semitrailer combination in a construction zone last year.

“I’m very supportive of (the new law),” Swilling said. “It’s just a great tool affording protections to those that work on roads.”

In the past, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers or other law enforcement officers would park near construction zones in an effort to make motorists move over, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

But starting July 1, if someone fails to yield to road crews, workers can call the Highway Patrol or other law enforcement agency, Swilling said.

However, the measures are no guarantee of safety. Since 2016, vehicles have hit 12 patrol cars stopped along the side of public roadways, according to a WYDOT news release.

“Moving over for emergency responders and construction, maintenance and utility workers is so vital,” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Momen Elazizi in the news release. “It’s just a common courtesy to move over for anyone stopped at the side of the road. It ensures everyone gets home safely.”