Move over or slow down to protect TxDOT crews

HOUSTON - If you're driving on the highway and see orange cones, be sure to slow down or move over. There's an addition to a state law that drivers must follow that could be the difference between life and death for TxDOT workers

"They are out there building and maintaining our highways, and that's their office," said Deidrea Samuels with the Texas Department of Transportation.

TxDOT crews work around the clock to make sure our commute is as smooth and safe as possible; but, while workers are fixing road hazards, they are putting themselves in harm's way.

 "It's pretty dangerous," said TxDOT employee Thomas Sheldon. "There is always a danger working a long side the freeway."

Sheldon has been working for TxDOT for nine years. He's a mechanic, but used to work out in the field.

Back on September 13, 2007, a tragic accident veered his career path off course, when a woman lost control of her car and plowed into him off 610 near Ella.

"We were a rolling operation, so we would work in one spot for five minutes and move to the next spot," said Sheldon.

Before he could get into his truck, he was blindsided.

"Whenever I stopped to turn around, the car was on top of me already," Sheldon said.

Now, there's a new law in place to help safeguard TxDOT crews.

The state's Move Over/Slow Down law was already in place for police officers and tow truck drivers, but now TxDOT crews will also benefit.

Effective Sept. 1, drivers must move over or slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit when approaching TxDOT workers and vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road.

Even though Sheldon made a full recovery, he hopes that what he went through won't happen to anyone else.

"It will help us do our job a little bit safer and keep other people safe that are on the road," he said.

There is one exception to the rule, if you are driving past a construction site and the workers are protected by a barrier, you do not have to move over.

According to TxDOT, if drivers are caught violating this law they could be fined up to $2,000.

Click here to learn more about Texas' Move Over/Slow Down law.

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