New traffic laws went into effect Sunday, all of them carrying stiffer penalties for drivers caught breaking the rules.
Many of the laws aim to increase safety for both road workers and pedestrians, both in and out of school zones.
One of the laws is one that has already been in place for other agencies since 2003: Move Down or Slow Down.
Drivers already have to change lanes or slow down when passing emergency vehicles, but now, they will have to do the same for TXDOT TX DOTles working outside of established work zones with overhead flashing lights engaged.
“Removing a carcass off the side of a road or removing the signs, these are the kinds of vehicles that the move over slow down law will apply to,” said Larry Krantz of TXDOT.
DTX DOTs are required to move over at least one lane or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. Failing to comply will cost violators up to $2,000.
“We're first responders too,” Krantz said. “We work in one of the most dangerous places in America, the highway. The benefit to us from this law is to provide that extra barrier of protection, to have traffic move over. Either give us the lane or slow down, anything that's going to lessen the possibility of our workers being struck or killed on the roadway.”
A few of the laws also mean increased penalties found in violation in school zones or near active school buses.
New laws expand the school zone cell phone ban to include all school property while the car is in motion, including the parking lot and drop-off lanes. Violators will face penalties of up to $200.
There is also an increased penalty for passing a school bus that is actively loading or unloading. The maximum penalty will now cost $250 more, a fine of up to $1,250.
Officials said the goal is to encourage drivers to pay closer attention to the road, all while protecting pedestrians and roadside workers.
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