The Wisconsin State Patrol is reminding drivers to move over or slow down when encountering law enforcement and other emergency vehicles on the side of roadways.
A near tragedy earlier this month emphasized the importance of shifting lanes.
Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Jim Reese stopped a driver for speeding on I-43 in Sheboygan County last Friday, July 19. As Reese was walking back to his cruiser after talking to the driver of the stopped vehicle, a semi hit the side of the cruiser.
The crash was captured on the video camera in Reese’s cruiser, and a photograph shows the damage.
“Trooper Reese approached the stopped vehicle on the shoulder of the Interstate on the right or passenger-side,” said State Patrol Capt. Nick Scorcio, commander of the Northeast Region.
“If he had been walking on the left or driver-side of the vehicle, there’s no doubt in my mind he would have been hit by the semi traveling at highway speed,” said Scorcio. “The semi driver was issued citations for inattentive driving and failure to move over.”
Wisconsin’s move over law requires drivers to shift lanes if possible or slow down in order to create a safety zone for a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.
“To create a safety zone on Interstate highways and other divided roads with multiple directional lanes, you must move over to vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement or other emergency vehicle if you can safely switch lanes,” said Scorcio. “If the road has a single directional lane or you can’t safely move over because of traffic, you must reduce your speed until safely past the vehicle.”
Failure of motorists to create a safety zone by moving over or slowing down is one of the major reasons that motor vehicle crashes kill more law enforcement officers on duty than any other cause, according to Scorcio.
Scorcio emphasized, “By obeying the Move Over Law, drivers can protect themselves, their passengers, motorists who are stopped on the roadway shoulder, our officers and others who work on highways from needless injuries and deaths.”
The video and a digital photo of Reese’s close call can be seen on YouTube at youtu.be/egkuuPkXUPg.