TDOT Worker’s Tragic Death Calls Attention to TN’s Move Over Law
It’s hard to forget the fatal 18-wheeler collision that took the life of 65-year-old TDOT technician David Younger in late April.
According to the reports I read from WKRN, the accident took place around 9:40AM, Thursday, April 28th when a TDOT crew took three emergency vehicles down I-40 to respond to a worksite in Hickman County. One of the three automobiles got a flat tire, so the workers turned on all of their vehicles’ emergency lights and pulled over to the side of the road to repair the flat.
That’s when authorities say a semi veered off the road and onto the shoulder striking two of the TDOT automobiles and David Younger before careening off the road and overturning. Younger died at the scene of the accident, and three TDOT workers suffered personal injuries.
This tragic semi-truck wreck brought attention to the dangers that TDOT workers, state troopers and other road crew members face on a daily basis. Lt. Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WKRN that if the truck driver had observed the Move Over Law this crash would not have happened.
“This is clearly a violation of the Move Over Law that is in place to prevent incidents just like this,” Miller explained. “Now, because we have a person who failed to observe the rules of the road in the state of Tennessee, we have a person who has been taken from his family, and that is not acceptable,” he said.
Since the accident, the tractor-trailer driver Candelario Castillo and his employer have been under investigation. Currently, there is an $18 million lawsuit pending against the driver and his employer, Spirit Truck Company.
My condolences go out to David Younger’s family at this time. Younger was a native of Nashville, TN. He is survived by his wife of over forty years, two daughters and grandchildren.
The Importance of the Move Over Law
You may remember a piece I previously wrote about the Move Over Law. In it, I explained what this law requires of drivers and that many people were not observing this fairly new, but very important law.
Tennessee was actually the 30th state to establish a Move Over Law when it passed in 2006. According to the TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security, The “Move Over Law is a part of the[State Law: Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles] “Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles Law” (T.C.A. 55-8-132) and requires motorists to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic, when safe to do so, or alternatively to slow down for emergency vehicles.
In 2011, the law was expanded to include utility service equipment to the list of vehicles for which motorists are required to either slow down or move over.
David Younger’s death reminds us all of the dangers that TDOT workers and state troopers face when motorists do not obey the Move Over law. Younger was the fourth TDOT employee in five years to have been killed in the line of duty statewide. Since TDOT’s inception in 1948, 110 TDOT workers have lost their lives on the job.
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman BJ Doughty explained to WKRN reporters just how dangerous a TDOT worker’s job can be, “When we are on the side of the roadway, you are coming through our office at 70 miles an hour.
Observing the Move Over Law
All motorists must work together to keep our roads safe. We must respect the important jobs that emergency responders have and help get them where they need to be. This means being aware of our surroundings and the rules of the road.
Let’s break down the Move Over Law into steps that we can all easily follow. After all, obeying the law could not only prevent you from getting a $500 ticket but help emergency responders save the lives of those in need.
Change lanes for emergency automobiles that are headed to a site. It’s simple. When you see an emergency response vehicle behind you, move to a different lane to make a path for them. Emergency vehicles include police cars with their sirens on as well as TDOT vehicles, ambulances and
Slow down and drive carefully if you can’t change lanes. If you cannot change lanes due to heavy traffic, slow down. This way the emergency responders can pass you more easily.
Change lanes when you see a stopped emergency vehicle. If you can change lanes and move away from stopped emergency vehicles safely, then you should do so.
Move over for non-emergency vehicles too. When you approach a stopped motorist whose experiencing car trouble, you should change lanes to give that person as much room as possible.
Pay Attention and Save Lives
We at Raybin & Weissman want to do all we can to raise awareness of Tennessee’s Move Over Law. Police officers, emergency responders and TDOT workers have to work on dangerous highways and roadsides on a daily basis.
In order for them to do their job, we must do ours by paying attention and giving them space. Protect yourself and others on the highway. It is the law and it is your responsibility.
If you have experienced personal injuries due to an accident involving a truck, semi, tractor-trailer or heavy construction equipment hauler, I’m here to serve you.