KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Since 1948, 112 Tennessee Department of Transportation workers have lost their lives on the job. On Tuesday, TDOT honored all who have died.
Spokesperson for TDOT Mark Nagi said distracted driving is all too common, and that the men and women of TDOT risk their lives every day.
"Quite often they are only inches away from oncoming traffic, and this isn't only cars that are going 10-15 miles per hour, we are talking about 60-65 or more,"
Gary Higginbotham has been working for TDOT for five years on the help truck crew. He said the fear of being struck by a vehicle is higher than ever before because of texting and driving.
"It's a very big distraction to drivers, it only takes a second, and I know there is laws to abide by by not using cellphones, but they don't respect us out on the road, put the phone down and drive,"
In Tennessee, the TDOT work trucks are considered emergency vehicles, and state law mandates drivers must move over safely if these vehicles are working.
In honor of National Work Zone Awareness week, TDOT honored their own by placing 112 orange barrels along I-640 to honor the lives lost. The barrels were placed near mile marker 8 in Knoxville.
TDOT representatives said they also want drivers to be mindful of these Tennessee State laws:
- The Texting While Driving Law (TCA 55-8-199) states that texting while driving a vehicle in Tennessee is illegal.
- The Move Over Law (TCA 55-8-132) states that when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with visual emergency lights activated, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to the vehicle by moving into the closest available lane from the emergency vehicle, whenever possible.
- When the roadway does not provide an additional lane, drivers are required to slow down and provide as much space as possible to protect emergency vehicle operators in action.
- The Seat Belt Law (TCA 55-9-603) states that Tennessee is a primary Safety Belt state. Drivers are required to wear safety belts at all times when operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee. Drivers are also responsible for ensuring that all passengers are belted in.
- The Speeding in Construction Zones Law (TCA 55-8-153) states that drivers are required to obey speed limits at all times, especially when workers are in a construction zone. Violators are subject to a minimum $250.00 fine.
- The Handgun Carry Permit Law (TCA 39-17-1351) states that Tennessee allows out-of-state residents who possess a legally issued Handgun Carry Permit to bear a handgun; Tennessee laws regulating the use and carry of a handgun shall take precedence.
- Under Tennessee's DUI Law and Penalties (TCA 55-10-401 and 55-10-403), individuals are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 percent. First time offenders are subject to a $350.00 minimum fine and 48 hours in jail.
- Vehicle towing and storage will also be charged to offenders. Enhanced penalties and sanctions will result if BAC is greater than the legal limit or if children are present at the time of arrest.
- Under the Maximum Length of Recreational Vehicle Combination Law (TCA 55-7-201), the maximum length of this type of combination vehicle is sixty-five feet (65'). Any towed vehicle shall also be securely attached to the pulling unit and equipped with functional brake and signal lights.
- The Child Restraint Devices Law (TCA 55-9-602) states that all child passengers through the age of eight (8) must be secured in a Child Restraint Device.
- Infants are required in a rear facing child restraint device in the rear seat, if available, until the age of one (1) or weighing twenty pounds (20 lbs.) or less.
- Children ages one (1) through three (3) weighing greater than twenty pounds (20 lbs.) must be in a child restraint device in a forward facing position in the rear seat, if available.
- Children ages four (4) through eight (8) and less than four-feet, nine inches (4’ 9”) in height must be in a booster seat in the rear seat, if available. Children above the age of nine (9) must be secured by a safety belt restraint system.
- The Motorcycle Helmet Law (TCA 55-9-302) states that all motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear a helmet. Helmets must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards and be certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- The Open Container Law (TCA 55-10-416) mandates that drivers shall not consume or possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee.