Move it on over!

A new effort is getting under way aimed at eliminating fatalities to law enforcement officers due to crashes during highway traffic stops.

A new effort is getting under way aimed at eliminating fatalities to law enforcement officers due to crashes during highway traffic stops.

“Move Over America” is a new campaign started by the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriffs’ Assn., and the National Assn. of Police Organizations to educate Americans about so-called “Move Over” laws. These statutes require drivers to change lanes or slow down to 20 mph for emergency vehicles – including police cruisers, sheriff or highway patrol vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances – when their lights are flashing and while law enforcement personnel conduct traffic stops.

More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed over the last decade after being struck by vehicles along highways, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Yet while 40 states already have Move Over laws on the books few drivers are aware of them.

According to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, among 625 registered voters June 23-25, some 71% had never heard of “Move Over” laws, though 90% said they believe traffic stops and roadside emergencies are dangerous for law enforcement and first responders, with 86% supporting the enactment of Move Over laws in all 50 states.

“Too many motorists still do not understand the importance of ‘Move Over,’ which is the law in Virginia,” said Sheriff Charles Jett of Stafford County, VA, who is also a member of the National Sheriffs’ Assn.’s traffic safety committee. “Drivers, please help protect the people who protect you, and follow this common-sense law. Slow down or move over away from emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. The stakes are just too high.”

“When America’s law enforcement officers pull over a motorist, they put their lives at risk. The last thing they need to be worried about is being struck by a bad driver – but that’s one of the gravest dangers they face today,” said Ken Underwood, president of the National Safety Commission. “Americans must know that they are required by law to move over and keep our state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies safe.”

“Our nation’s law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line to protect our citizens,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Assn. of Police Organizations. “Slowing down and changing lanes to give our first responders the space they need to stay safe is the least we can do in return. It’s what we must do. It’s the law.”

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