A Tennessee Department of Transportation HELP Operator has died of complications resulting from injuries sustained when he was struck by a vehicle while assisting a stranded motorist on December 24.
30-year-old James Rogers was changing a flat tire for a family stranded on I-40 at mile marker 221 in Davidson County. A member of the family was assisting with the tire change, but Rogers advised him to go inside the car for safety purposes. Tragically, just a few minutes later, Rogers was struck by a vehicle crossing onto the shoulder.
Roger passed away on Wednesday, leaving behind a five-year-old son and a girlfriend.
TDOT HELP Operators have routes on Tennessee’s most heavily traveled highways in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. The program began in 1999 for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion, improving safety, and assisting motorists in distress. The Region 3 HELP Operators in Middle Tennessee have responded to approximately 40,000 incidents in 2016.
Rogers is the third TDOT employee to be killed in the line of duty in 2016 and the 112th since the agency began keeping records in 1948.
Incidents like these helped inspire the so-called “Move Over” law in Tennessee, which requires drivers who encounter a TDOT HELP truck, law enforcement officer or other emergency workers along the side of the interstate to move over into the left hand lane if possible, or slow down if unable to change lanes, all to protect the safety of those who are out on the roads working to help others.