What Is the Move Over Law in Texas?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Every state in the United States has some form of the Move Over Law. Although the stipulations of the law may vary by state, the main goal remains the same: to safeguard emergency personnel and others from collision when responding to jobs on the side of the road. Understanding and obeying the Move Over Law in Texas are requirements if you wish to avoid fines and penalties. Keep yourself and others safe while driving in Texas with this information.

The 2003 Texas Move Over/Slow Down Statute

Every year, workers in the U.S. die from vehicles striking them while they are working roadside. From 2003 to 2015, 1,570 workers died at roadway construction sites. Texas ranked highest in the number of these deaths, with 171 fatalities. This number only represents construction workers killed; it doesn’t refer to first responders. Each year, an estimated 12 police officers, five firefighters, and 60 state Department of Transportation (DOT) workers die in the line of duty. Many of these deaths occur while responding to roadway incidents.
Roadside worker safety is paramount in Texas and throughout the country. Improving the safety of first responders and emergency personnel starts with spreading awareness of the issue. Enforcing new laws is one of the most effective ways to get drivers to change their behaviors. In 2003, Texas passed its original Move Over/Slow Down law. The law’s language protected employees by requiring drivers to yield to certain vehicles. Yielding means to either move over to the next available lane away from the stopped vehicle or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.
The original law applied to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and tow trucks on the side of the road with emergency lights flashing. In 2013, Texas legislators expanded the Move Over Law to also include Texas DOT vehicles. Drivers must now move over for all TxDOT vehicles stopped roadside with overhead blue or amber flashing lights as well. the announcement of the expanded law pointed out that more than 100 TxDOT employees working in construction zones had died after being struck vehicles since 1938.

Renewed Enforcement of Texas Move Over Law in 2018

On January 31, 2018, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced new enforcement efforts focusing specifically on the Move Over Law. The DPS planned periodic enforcement efforts at different locations in Texas throughout the year, starting in February. Data from 2017 showed more than 10,650 citations relating to the Move Over Law in Texas alone. By ramping up enforcement efforts in 2018, the DPS hopes to catch even more rule violators and enhance the safety of roadside service providers.
As a Texas driver, it’s your duty to obey the Move Over Law. This means you must slow down and/or switch lanes to give certain vehicles plenty of room when on official duty. If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, it’s wise to move over a lane or slow down to enhance the safety of any employees present. Moving over can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to roadside workers, who could otherwise lose their lives if drivers aren’t paying enough attention and driving too close to parked vehicles.
Violating Texas’s Move Over Law could result in fines of up to $2,000. It is a misdemeanor to break this law and a more serious Class B misdemeanor if you break the law and cause bodily injury. You may face criminal and civil penalties if you break the Move Over Law and cause a collision that injures or kills on-duty Texas workers. Stay on the right side of the law and protect others by obeying the Move Over statute and always paying attention to the road.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:37 pm

Is There a Problem With Sleep Apnea Among Truck Drivers?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the sleeper experiences obstructed airways repeatedly during sleep. Some people may have obstructive sleep apnea, in which blockages in the upper airway reduce or stop airflow. Others may have central sleep apnea, in which the brain stops sending signals for the need to breathe. Sleep apnea sufferers may experience interrupted sleep and feel more tired during the day.

As someone whose career relies on the ability to safely operate heavy equipment, it is clear how sleep apnea could be dangerous. Sleep interruptions due to this condition could make a commercial driver unfit to be behind the wheel. Studies on the rate of sleep apnea among truck drivers shows disturbing trends and correlations that could put lives at risk. Get the facts on sleep apnea and commercial trucking here.

3 Risk Factors for Developing Sleep Apnea

Although anyone could develop obstructive sleep apnea, certain factors can increase the likelihood of getting this condition. Some have to do with age, while others relate to lifestyle. Your chances of developing sleep apnea increase if you have a family history of this condition or of snoring, a large neck circumference, large tonsils, and a small lower jaw. The following, however, are three of the most prevalent risk factors:

  1. Men are up to three times more likely than women to develop sleep apnea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Central sleep apnea is more frequent in men than women. However, women may increase their risk if they are obese.
  2. Being overweight has one of the most significant correlations with sleep apnea. Obesity impacts sleep apnea by constructing one’s airways with extra fatty deposits around the neck. Obesity can obstruct breathing while a person tries to sleep.
  3. Middle-age. Sleep apnea is more common in middle-aged and older adults than younger people. As sleepers age and develop conditions such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, the need to take sedatives, the risk of sleep apnea increases.

All three of these risk factors are prevalent amongst employees in commercial truck driving. The trucking industry today is mostly male, with the number of female workers driving trucks hovering only around 4-6%. Obesity is more common in truckers than other types of workers (69% vs. 31%, respectively), due to long hours sitting and having to settle for unhealthy meals on the road. Most truck drivers are middle-aged as well, with millennials statistically reluctant to join the trade. Thus, the most common factors in truck driving and sleep apnea are one in the same.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea in Truckers

The rate of sleep apnea in truckers puts everyone on the road in danger. It’s a common enough problem that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the organization in charge of commercial trucking safety, has a page dedicated to the condition. Although President Trump recently canceled the requirement for sleep apnea screening in truck drivers, it is still a serious safety risk of which everyone should be aware.

As a truck driver, learn how to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and seek help if you believe you have this condition. You can manage sleep apnea and avoid drowsy driving. As a driver, pay attention when driving around truckers in Texas. Signs of a drowsy driver include drifting between lanes, coming to sudden stops, and driving off the road.

Keep your distance from commercial trucks and call the police to report the vehicle if you see signs of erratic truck driving behaviors. If you get into an accident with a trucker who has sleep apnea, the company could be liable for your damages. Contact a Dallas truck accident lawyer for more information.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:23 pm

How Can Parents Set an Example Against Distracted Driving?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Although the media focuses on the issue of teenage distracted driving, parents are also guilty of using their cellphones and engaging in other distracting habits behind the wheel. In 2017, 100,687 motor vehicle accidents in Texas involved distracted driving. These crashes caused 2,889 serious injuries and took 444 lives. Teens aren’t the only ones responsible for these car accidents in Texas. Parents must also take responsibility – especially when it comes to setting an example against distracted driving.

Hold Yourself Accountable

As a parent with young children or new teen drivers in the vehicle, you set the standard for what’s normal behind the wheel. If your child grows up seeing you text, take phone calls, read emails, eat, drink, groom, and do other distracting things while driving, the odds are much higher that he or she will acquire the same bad habits when it’s time to drive. You can set a positive, distraction-free example by holding yourself accountable for your actions while driving. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your child to do when it’s his/her turn to drive.
Texas law imposes a statewide ban on cellphone use for texting or other electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Other municipalities have passed additional limits on cellphone use while driving as well. Even if it weren’t against the law, a parent should never text and drive. It is one of the most dangerous forms of driver distraction, impairing a driver’s abilities to watch the road, keep hands on the wheel, and keep eyes on the road. Hold yourself to the same standards you expect your child to keep in the future.

Pull Over to Use Your Phone

If you must use your cellphone for non-emergency purposes, pull over in a safe location (such as a parking lot) to write your text or make your phone call. This teaches kids in the vehicle that they only safe time to use a cellphone while driving is when pulled over – not stopped in traffic. Otherwise, use hands-free technology such as auto-reply to respond to texts or answer calls while driving. Waiting until you get home to respond to emails or texts can show your children that nothing is more important than safety.

Use an Anti-Distracted Driving App

Apps are available to help you avoid distracted driving. However, don’t expect your teen drivers to download anti-distracted driving apps if you don’t use them yourself. Download apps such as LifeSaver or Mojo as a family. Download it on every driver’s phone in the household, including you and your spouse. That way, teen drivers won’t feel like the app is a punishment or something only they should use. Apps can hold the entire family accountable for safe driving.

Give 100% of Attention to the Road, 100% of the Time

New drivers learn what to do and what not to do from watching other drivers – namely, their parents. If you often eat fast food behind the wheel, drink coffee, finish your morning grooming routine, rubber-neck accidents as you pass by, or engage in other common distracted driving habits, this will become what your children think is “normal” to do behind the wheel. You’re training future distracted drivers, even if you preach “Do as I say, not as I do.”
If you’re a prudent, attentive driver 100% of the time, however, you’re teaching the importance of safe driving. Your teen drivers may never even think of picking up their phones behind the wheel if they’ve never witnessed their parents doing it. If they’ve seen you reply to texts almost every trip for the last 10 years, however, they may be more inclined to think this behavior is safe and acceptable. Be a safe-driving role model from day one to encourage good driving behaviors in your young drivers. The future of distracted driving could rest with you!

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:34 pm