By: Virgina State Police, Michael Campbell
VIRGINIA – This weekend may begin summer travel season across America, but Virginia State Police wants drivers to remember to slow down or move over for emergency and service vehicles while on the Commonwealth’s roadways.
The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads.
Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to change lanes, cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.
From 2006 to 2015 nationwide, 128 law enforcement officers were struck by vehicles while conducting traffic stops, assisting motorists, directing traffic, or otherwise working at the roadside.*
Last year, five Virginia State Police troopers were injured after being involved in crashes in which a motorist failed to “Move Over.” Nationwide, 15 officers were struck and killed outside their vehicles.**
“Everyday first responders and highway workers knowingly take on the dangerous task of working along the roadside to assist motorists or improve our highways,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We’re asking drivers to help protect those men and women by doing what’s right when they see flashing red, blue or amber lights – Move Over or Slow Down. It’s the law, and it could save a life.”
Since the 2017 Memorial Day holiday weekend falls within this year’s Click It or Ticket campaign, state police troopers will be even more vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage among adults, teenagers, and children. The two-week concentrated educational and enforcement initiative began Monday and runs through June 4, 2017. The annual Click-It-or-Ticket campaign combines high-visibility enforcement of seat belt and child safety seat laws with outreach and education.
Of the 761 total people killed last year in crashes throughout Virginia, 304 were unrestrained.***
Occupant restraint enforcement is a key component of the Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) traffic safety initiative that begins 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 26, 2017, and concludes Monday, May 29, 2017, at midnight.
The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays, like Memorial Day. The program also means that all available Virginia State Police troopers will be on patrol through the holiday weekend.
The 2016 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 913 individuals who failed to obey the law and buckle up, as well as issuing 273 citations for child safety seat violations on Virginia’s highways statewide. In addition, state police cited 11,048 speeders and 2,663 reckless drivers. A total of 131 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.
There were 11 traffic fatalities statewide during the five-day period (May 27, 2016 – May 31, 2016) of the 2016 Memorial Day weekend. In 2015, there were 14 traffic deaths and, in 2014, Virginia experienced eight fatalities on Virginia’s highways during the holiday weekend.***
*Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports
**Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
***Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles