The N.C. Department of Transportation made two announcements last week.

New penalties take effect

There are now stiffer penalties for drivers who violate the state’s ‘move-over’ law. The new penalties took effect Dec. 1.

Under the changes, a driver could face prison time if his failure to slow down or move over for a stopped emergency vehicle results in the death or serious injury of another person. The bill also makes it a misdemeanor if someone drives around roadblocks set up because of flooded roads.

Traffic Management Center opens

A new Traffic Management Center recently opened in Asheville to serve Western North Carolina.

The Mountain TMC is a regional version of the State Transportation Operations Center. It will help keep traffic moving in the mountains, especially throughout the Interstate 26 widening project and on I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge.

Employees at the TMC monitor traffic in real time with a combination of cameras and computer systems and relay information to the general public, IMAP teams, the state highway patrol, wrecker services and emergency services.