Since 1999, more than 170 law enforcement officers have been killed — and thousands have been injured — as a result of being on the side of the road doing their job and being struck by a distracted driver.
In January of 2015, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers Nicholas Dees and Keith Burch were working at a collision scene on I-40 when a motorist struck them. Trooper Dees died at the scene while Trooper Burch was seriously injured. The motorist — who admitted he was updating his social media at the time of the incident – is facing first-degree manslaughter charges.
On March 12, Highway Patrol Trooper Gary Sanders was conducting a routine traffic stop when a vehicle struck the back of his cruiser, pushing it into the vehicle he had pulled over. Trooper Sanders was critically injured in the incident, and is slowly recovering.
You get the picture. According to FBI statistics, officers being struck and killed by distracted drivers is a major cause of law enforcement deaths. So much so that today, all 50 states have some form of a “Move Over” law in effect.
The “Move Over” laws are simple: when you see flashing lights on the side of the road, you are required to slow down. If it’s safe, you need to move over to another lane away from police, fire crews, paramedics and tow truck drivers. These laws really should be common sense. If you see anybody on the side of the road – law enforcement, construction workers, or simply a car broken down – “Move Over” and give them some space.
According to Mason Dixon Polling and Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission, 71 percent of Americans have not heard of “Move Over” laws. As truck drivers, you are the professionals. If you make the move into another lane to give law enforcement officers space to do their jobs, other motorists will follow.
We learned in our Smith System Training to:
- Aim high in steering.
- Get the big picture.
- Keep your eyes moving.
- Leave yourself an out.
- Make sure they see you.
If you follow these five keys of safety, you’re looking farther down the road. You’ll be prepared and have the time to change lanes or adjust your speed if needed. It’s also important to remember that others behind you may not be able to see what is coming up on the side of the road, so make your move to the next lane as early as you can, and make sure you signal your intentions. If you have to slow down, using your four-ways may be a good idea.
Use your expertise to talk to your friends and family members about this as well.
Remember; “Move Over,” it’s the law!