The New York State Department of Transportation worker who was seriously injured on March 13 when his truck was hit by a tractor-trailer on state Route 17 in Tioga County, NY, died Monday. Police said the driver of the tractor-trailer failed to obey the state’s Move Over Law.
The Tioga County, N.Y., Sheriff’s Office identified the DOT employee as 45-year-old Dennis Matthew Howe of Owego. He was airlifted on March 13 to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, where he died Monday.
The Sheriff’s Office said a tractor-trailer driven by 37-year-old Lawrence Faucett of Ulster, PA, struck the state DOT truck in the westbound lane between Exit 63 (to Lounsberry) and Exit 62 (to Nichols). DOT employees were performing roadway maintenance when the truck was hit.
Faucett was ticketed for Moving from the Lane Unsafely and Failure to Obey the Move Over Law. The investigation continues.
A GoFundMe account has been established to help Howe’s family with medical expenses. As of the morning of March 20, it had raised more than $15,000.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on all state government buildings in honor of Howe. Flags will be flown half-staff until Howe’s burial.
According to the governor’s office, Howe had been a DOT employee since 2006. Cuomo called Howe a “jack of all trades who was always eager to lend a hand to the team.”
Howe’s death is a tragic reminder of the dangers facing DOT workers face, Cuomo said.
“There is nothing routine about what our maintenance forces do to keep New York’s highways safe, and we have zero tolerance for anyone who flagrantly puts the lives and safety of our workers in jeopardy,” Cuomo said “This year, I called for stricter protections for transportation workers to send a clear message that New York stands with our workers.”
The NY Move Over Law requires cars to move over and slow down, if they can safely do so, for police, firefighters, ambulance workers, tow-truck drivers and other personnel as they work at crash scenes. Motorists are similarly required to move when construction and maintenance vehicles are stopped alongside roads – this includes New York State Department of Transportation vehicles who care for our highways.
The law, first enacted in 2011, was expanded in July 2016 to include volunteer firefighter and ambulance workers. In November 2016, sanitation vehicles, such as garbage and recycling trucks, were also added.
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 100,000 people have been ticketed for failing to move over since 2011, including more than 12,000 in 2018.
The penalty for violating the Move Over Law is a fine of up to $150, or jail time of up to 15 days, or both. It also counts for two points on a driver’s license. A second offense within 18 months of the first one could double the amount of the fine, pushing it up to $300. A third offense in 18 months could lead to a fine of up to $450.
There are also steep state surcharges on moving violations: $88 or $93 upon conviction for violating New York’s Move Over Law, and there’s an impact on vehicle insurance: Studies confirm that being convicted of a moving violation can result in a rate increase of up to 20 percent, sometimes more.
The Move Over Law is important – it protects vulnerable people who are forced to work at the edges of roadways where cars, trucks and tractor trailers are flying by mere feet away. Because the protected people are busy doing their job, they can’t pay as much attention to traffic as they would like. When people violate the move over law, the results can be tragic, and injuries are certain to be very serious because of the speed of the moving vehicles.
The Move Over Law is a common-sense solution to give the protected workers room to do their jobs, so move over, slow down, and make sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.
Thank you for reading,
Adam M. Gee