NASHVILLE, TN – Last month a new law went into effect in Tennessee that expands the state’s "move-over" law to include electric and other utility vehicles. Police, fire and highway construction vehicles were already covered before the law’s expansion.

Now motorists approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights are required to move over, if safe to do so, to create an empty lane buffer. When changing lanes isn’t possible, motorists must reduce speed. 

The law change is aimed at protecting utility workers and their fleet vehicles. 

"Utility workers have dangerous jobs to begin with," said Tracy Hayes, manager of procurement and transportation with the Knoxville Utilities Board. “And working in or along roadways increases their risk. We hope that being included under the Move Over law will help make their working environment safer."

Roadway crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the United States.

The Tennessee Department of Safety reports that more than 100 highway and street construction workers are killed each year as a result of vehicle crashes or equipment accidents on the job. Another 20,000 are injured.

The Knoxville Utilities Board has over 460 vehicles equipped with emergency lights. On any given day KUB can have as many as 500 employees working in or alongside roadways within its service area. The new law provides an additional measure of safety, KUB said.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on April 5.