More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1997 after being struck by vehicles along America's highways, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. To lower that deadly toll, a new coalition of traffic safety and law enforcement groups is launching a nationwide public awareness campaign to protect emergency personnel along our nation's roadsides.
"Move Over, America" is a partnership of the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Association of Police Organizations. The campaign is the first nationally coordinated effort to educate Americans about "Move Over" laws and how they help protect the law enforcement officers who risk their lives protecting the public.
According to a national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research, sponsored by the National Safety Commission:
- 71 percent of Americans have not heard of "Move Over" laws;
- 86 percent support enacting "Move Over" laws in all 50 states; and
- 90 percent believe traffic stops and roadside emergencies are dangerous for law enforcement and first responders.
The poll was conducted among 625 registered voters from June 23-25. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. [For inquiries regarding the poll's methodology, please contact Brad Coker of Mason Dixon at 904-261-2444].
"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."
Move Over Laws - What You Need to Know
Forty states have passed "Move Over" laws, which require motorists to "Move Over" and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers on road sides. If drivers can't change lanes or are driving on a two-lane road, they must slow down to at least 20 mph under the posted speed limit. If drivers do not move over or slow down, officers can and do write citations.
"Too many motorists still do not understand the importance of 'Move Over,' which is the law in Virginia," said Sheriff Charles E. Jett of Stafford County, Va., a member of the Traffic Safety Committee of the National Sheriffs' Association. "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."
Most "Move Over" laws also require drivers to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles with their lights flashing. This includes police cruisers, Sheriff's or Highway Patrol vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. Whether you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road or behind you on the roadways with its lights flashing, move over!
"Our nation's law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line to protect our citizens," said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association 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. Move Over, America. It's the law."
Do Your Part - You Could Save a Life
In South Florida on Feb. 15, 2006, Broward County Deputy Sheriff Ryan Seguin was struck and killed by a motorist as he and his partner made a traffic stop on Interstate 595. He was 23 years old.
"Ryan was the best son a man could ever ask for: a good man and an exceptional deputy," said Phil Seguin, Ryan's father and a former Fort Lauderdale police officer. "Police work is dangerous business and every law enforcement officer knows the risks of the job. But deaths like Ryan's could be prevented if people just pay attention and obey the law. That's the real message here."
The Partners of the "Move Over, America" Campaign
The National Safety Commission, which operates online driving safety courses through www.LowestPriceTrafficSchool.com, is America's leader in driver safety training, providing courses to consumers and businesses in every state and in more than a dozen countries.
The National Sheriffs' Association is dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies and other criminal justice professionals, providing information, technical assistance, professional development opportunities and congressional advocacy.
The National Association of Police Organizations is the strongest unified voice supporting law enforcement officers in the United States, representing more than 2,000 police unions and associations and 238,000 sworn law enforcement officers, whose interests NAPO serves to advance through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education.