New Law Adds Protection for Utility Linemen and Women
Utility linemen will join the ranks of law enforcement, public safety and transportation personnel who will be better protected under a new law signed today by Gov. Nathan Deal.
“I was proud to sign the Move Over for Linemen bill this morning,” said Gov. Deal. “This bill will help the selfless linemen and women in Georgia go home safely to their families after working around the clock to keep our lights on, even in extreme weather conditions.”
House Bill 767 requires any motorist approaching utility linemen at an active work site, as indicated by traffic cones or flashing yellow, amber, white or red lights, to change lanes or reduce their speed to a reasonable and proper speed below the posted speed limit. Any motorist who does not change lanes or drop their speed to avoid the utility workers can be fined up to $250 per incident. The new bill, effective July 1, applies to all types of utility workers, including electric, natural gas, cable and telecommunications workers, right-of-way crews or utility contractors.
“Our number one priority is the safety of EMC personnel and the public we serve,” says Dennis Chastain, president/CEO, Georgia EMC.
“Our line workers – who already perform dangerous work to keep the lights on every day – deserve as safe an environment as possible.”
Consequently, Georgia EMC led a coalition of utilities and businesses consisting of 41 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Georgia Power and municipal systems in support of HB 767, sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell).
According to the Georgia Department of Highway Safety, emergency vehicles parked beside a highway are vulnerable to crashes, even with emergency lights flashing. As a result, the original law (passed in 2003) was created to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities to police officers, paramedics, firefighters, wrecker operators, and highway maintenance workers by maintaining an open buffer lane between passing highway traffic and authorized roadside emergency vehicles.
Gov. Deal signed the bill during a statewide event to recognize Lineman Appreciation Month in April. The EMCs, Georgia Power, municipal systems, Electric Cities of Georgia, MEAG Power and other utilities gathered at the State Capitol as Gov. Deal, members of the legislature and the public said “Thank You” to linemen for their service and sacrifice and for keeping the lights on 365 days a year.
The final Move Over for Linemen bill can be viewed at http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20152016/159592.pdf
Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area.