It’s been 10 years since the Move Over law went into effect to try to ensure the safety of emergency personnel on the sides of the road. But even with this law, 170 law enforcement officers in the country have died after being struck by vehicles while they were standing on the roadside.
On Jan. 26, 38-year-old Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Dave Rodriguez was seriously injured in Orlando after pulling over a driver.
At 8:40 a.m. a Hyundai Sonata driven by Brittany Mikus was traveling westbound on State Road 528 in the left through lane, the FHP reports. Rodriguez,who was driving an FHP motorcycle and had his emergency lights activated, was parked in the inside emergency lane. He pulled over a car for a traffic stop and after its completion, he was getting back on motorcycle.
The Sonata drove off the road and traveled into the emergency lane. The front of the car struck the rear of the motorcycle and Rodriguez rolled onto the hood and hit the windshield of the Sonata, the FHP reports.
The right front of the Sonata then hit a speed limit sign, throwing Rodriguez into the median. The speed limit sign then fell on top of him, FHP reported.
The wreck seriously injured Rodriguez, FHP reported. He is currently in the hospital.
It is still under investigation.
To help bring more attention to the Move Over law, FHP Director Col. David Brierton said the organization is teaming up with two other states to protect emergency workers. The FHP, Alabama Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol are this month is focusing on enforcement and education efforts.
“All too often, a law enforcement officer, paramedic or wrecker operator is seriously injured or killed while they are doing their job because a vehicle drove too close,” said Brierton. “That is why our law includes protection for all first responders, emergency personnel and wrecker operators. Each of them deserves protection under the law.”
During the month-long enforcement operation, law enforcement officers will work together along busy highways and interstates to catch Move Over Law violators and others breaking traffic laws. Law enforcement officers will issue citations for violations.
The Move Over Law was passed in July 2002 in Florida. It requires motorists, whenever they observe an authorized emergency vehicle or a wrecker parked roadside with flashing emergency lights, to get out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle or wrecker when on a highway with two or more lanes. If that cannot be accomplished safely, or when traveling on a two-lane roadway, the driver must slow down to a speed of 20 mph less than the posted speed limit, the law says.
Hawaii and Washington, D.C., are the only areas that do not have a Move Over Law.