VDOT warning drivers to be cautious after two workers die this summer

Highway Safety 9-7-12

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - Two people working for the Virginia Department of Transportation died this summer in Southwest Virginia and now VDOT is warning drivers to slow down.

It's actually the law in Virginia for drivers to move over and slow down. News 5 caught up with a crew member mowing along Interstate 81 and learned they're always on high alert and looking out for each other.

Some might say it's a dangerous job, for more than one reason. "I worry about the cars because people swerve over. The 18 wheelers around here blow my hat off and everything else," said Travis Taylor mowing parts of I-81.

But it's not hard to spot sign after sign warning drivers what's ahead. Taylor says he hasn't had a close call with another car yet, but he's hoping that never happens.

News 5 learned every morning crews with VDOT get briefed on safety before they even start working. "Last year in Virginia there were about 3,500 accidents [in work zones] and 11 of those being fatalities from those accidents," said Michelle Earl with VDOT.

But plenty of people work on busy interstates. A few months ago, a Virginia State Trooper in Lee County was helping a driver on Route 29 when another car slammed into the back of his patrol car causing serious injuries.

But drivers beware, in Virginia if you don't move to a passing lane and slow down, you're breaking the law. It's there to protect police, emergency crews, or anyone working alongside highways. And those working want you to remember one thing. "Please watch out for us, we've got families and we don't want to die," said Taylor.

News 5 learned if you are convicted of violating the Move Over/Slow Down Law you could pay a $2,500 fine and or spending 12 months in jail.

Most Popular