Last year, five Virginia troopers were injured after being involved in crashes while conducting traffic stops, assisting motorists, directing traffic or otherwise working at the roadside. Nationwide, 15 officers were struck and killed outside their vehicles.
The numbers are even more staggering over the period of the last 10 years. From 2006 to 2015, 128 law enforcement officers were struck by vehicles that failed to move over, nationwide.
In Virginia, the Move Over Law is a lifesaving effort intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of 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.
“Every day first responders and highway workers knowingly take on the dangerous task of working along the roadside to assist motorists or improve our highways,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State 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.”
A violation of the law is punishable as a traffic infraction, and a second violation shall be punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Members of the Christiansburg Fire and Police Departments along with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and Virginia State Police are urging motorists to be more observant and to follow the definition of “move over.”
Christiansburg spokesperson Melissa Powell said local emergency responders want to encourage drivers to move to the opposite lane and reduce their speed when they see emergency personnel on the side of the road.
“Our local emergency responders want to spread that message to residents so they remain informed about the law and its importance,” she said.