HERKIMER — Matthew Driscoll, executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, said it doesn’t take much to help keep Thruway personnel and road workers safe while on the job.

“It seems so simple,” he said during a news conference at the Thruway Authority Herkimer Maintenance Section Friday. “Slow down and move over.”

Driscoll and several state officials gathered to bring attention to the state’s Move Over Law and National Move Over Day, which is observed on the third Saturday of October.

The law was enacted in 2011 to protect workers along roadways and has since been expanded to include a wide range of emergency and hazard vehicles. The law applies to both sides of the road and includes tow trucks, construction, highway maintenance and police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. It also applies to vehicles with flashing blue, green, red, white or amber lights, giving law enforcement more authority to penalize violators who jeopardize the safety of those working along highways.

The Move Over Law is especially personal to Sally Deming of Little Falls. Deming’s husband — 58-year-old Ronald C. Deming — died Oct. 28, 2016. A Thruway employee for more than 20 years, Ronald Deming was assisting in the removal of a vehicle involved in a previous accident when a Ford Escape sideswiped one of the tow trucks at the scene and he was struck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sally Deming talked about missing out on the “memories” they would have made over the past three years, including being grandparents.

“I do not want him to become another statistic,” she said. “Please slow down and move over.”

Sam Zhou, assistant commissioner for operations for the state Department of Transportation, spoke about Dennis “Matt” Howe, a state DOT worker, who died after sustaining injuries when a tractor-trailer driver failed to move over on March 13 in Tioga County. He said the crew had the vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road with the lights flashing.

“Matt and his crew did everything right,” said Zhou, adding this was “… another tragic accident that could have been avoided, but the driver was not paying attention and failed to move over.”

Behind the speakers at the news conference was a demolished Thruway vehicle on a flatbed truck. The vehicle had been parked on the shoulder of the road and was hit by a tractor-trailer after two maintenance workers stepped outside to work.

“It’s really troubling to me the number of incidents we deal with in on a daily basis,” said Driscoll.

Ahead of National Move Over Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted the importance of the law that resulted in 13,059 violations in New York in 2018.

“Police, highway workers, tow truck drivers and emergency responders risk their lives every day so we can drive across New York safely,” said Cuomo in a statement. “For everyone’s sake, I urge motorists to heed the Move Over Law and use common sense. When you see an emergency or hazard vehicle along the highway, slow down and have the courtesy to move your vehicle over a lane to give those brave men and women room to work.”

Driscoll said Thruway workers deal with below freezing temperatures in February and 90-degree heat in July while doing their job.

“They’re working in difficult and dangerous conditions,” he said. “This is a plea to the public to pay attention and to be alert to give our highway workers an opportunity to get home safely to their families and loved ones.”