BY ERIN CAMPBELL
I’ll bet most of us are quick to move over or slow down when we see a police car, fire truck or ambulance on the side of the road. Those flashing red and blue lights certainly seem to get our attention! But do you also move over or slow down when approaching a stationary utility maintenance vehicle with flashing amber lights like a bucket truck, garbage truck or tow truck? Iowa’s Move Over or Slow Down law applies to both emergency and utility maintenance vehicles, and you could be fined for not obeying it.
Move over or slow down!
These five words can go far in keeping utility workers safe and sound as you drive down Iowa’s roadways. The state’s had a “Move Over or Slow Down” law on the books since 2002 that simply states a motorist must change lanes or slow down when approaching a stationary emergency, tow or maintenance vehicle that has its flashing lights activated.
Earlier this year, additional legislation was unanimously approved by the Iowa house and senate and signed into law by former Gov. Branstad to further define utility maintenance vehicles. House File 314 went into effect on July 1, so electric cooperative maintenance and utility vehicles are now clearly covered by Iowa’s Move Over or Slow Down law.
What does this mean for you?
As a licensed Iowa driver, you must move over or slow down when approaching an emergency or maintenance utility vehicle on the side of the road that has its flashing lights activated. As a safety best practice, we hope you move over and slow down every time you approach any vehicle stopped along the side of the road.
To help spread this important safety message and to protect our linemen from serious injury or death, the electric cooperatives of Iowa have partnered with other utility groups in the state to develop a public awareness campaign. With support from Alliant Energy, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, ITC Midwest and MidAmerican Energy, we’re urging drivers to take an online pledge to obey Iowa’s updated Move Over or Slow Down law at www.MoveOverIowa.com. Once you enter your name and ZIP Code on the website and take the pledge, you have the option of sharing your pledge on Facebook or Twitter to encourage your family and friends to do the same.
The messaging of our just-released Move Over and Slow Down awareness campaign will also focus on distracted driving and how that can create dangerous situations. When you’re behind the wheel, keep your eyes and full attention on the road and make room for maintenance workers who are on the side of the road. Their jobs are dangerous enough already.
“The Move Over or Slow Down campaign reminds drivers to be cautious when approaching utility vehicles,” said Gov. Reynolds. “It might seem like common sense, but many drivers don’t know about the penalties they could face for failing to obey the law. More importantly though, many drivers don’t realize the danger that passing utility areas without moving over or slowing down causes for both utility workers and themselves.”
Erin Campbell is the director of communications for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.