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New Law Provides Protection for Utility Linemen
Palmetto, GA—April 25, 2016—The 41 Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) in Georgia, including Coweta-Fayette EMC, recently brought the issue of line worker safety before the 2016 Georgia General Assembly.
Subsequently, EMC linemen—now joining the ranks of law enforcement, public safety and transportation personnel—will be better protected under a new law signed last week by Gov. Nathan Deal.
House Bill 767, the “Move Over for Linemen” legislation, requires any motorist approaching utility linemen at an active work site—indicated by traffic cones or flashing yellow, amber, white or red lights—to change lanes or reduce speed to a reasonable and proper velocity below the posted limit. Any motorist who fails to change lanes or decrease speed may 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 personnel, as well as right-of-way crews and utility contractors.
During the legislative session, Georgia EMC led a coalition of utilities and businesses—including the state’s 41 EMCs, Georgia Power and various municipal systems—in support of HB 767, sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell).
The new law and added protections are critical to safeguard workers. According to the Georgia Department of Highway Safety, emergency vehicles parked beside a highway are vulnerable to crashes, even with emergency lights flashing. Consequently, 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 keeping 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 (April). The EMCs, Georgia Power, a number of municipal systems, Electric Cities of Georgia, MEAG Power and others gathered at the State Capitol as Gov. Deal, legislators and the public said, “Thank you!” for the dedication and sacrifice it takes to keep the lights on.
Coweta-Fayette EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to more than 76,000 member accounts in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, South Fulton, Clayton, Spalding, Troup and Meriwether Counties.