North Carolina’s ‘move over law’ expands to include utility vehicles

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In July, North Carolina lawmakers expanded the state’s “move over law” to include electric utility vehicles restoring power on the sides of roadways. The “move over law” requires motorists to slow down and cautiously approach emergency vehicles with flashing lights, moving over one lane when possible.

Beginning in December, the law will encompass electric utility vehicles that are stopped, with amber lights flashing, on roadway shoulders. The expanded law protects electric utility workers as they work to maintain power lines or restore power in local communities and along North Carolina’s highways.

“Cooperative line crews work in difficult situations and weather conditions to make sure we all receive safe and reliable power,” said Robert W. Leavitt Jr., CEO of Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC). “Strong storms like some that moved through our state this year can send trees and limbs crashing to the ground, bringing power lines with them. Although the law does not take effect until Dec. 1, residents are encouraged to begin the practice of moving over and slowing down if they see an electric utility vehicle. This will help protect the safety of not only the workers, but also the drivers.”

Gov. Bev Perdue signed the bill into law on July 21. The bill’s primary sponsor was Rep. Nelson Cole of Rockingham County. Violating the law can lead to a $500 fine when the law takes effect.

BEMC is a locally owned and operated not-for-profit corporation.  It is the second largest electric cooperative in North Carolina, serving nearly 86,000 member locations in Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen and Robeson counties. It was recently ranked the 32nd largest of 855 electric co-ops in the nation.