Move Over law violations put first responders within inches of death

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Everyday emergency responders like sheriff’s deputies, police officers, fire fighters, and TDOT Help truck operators clock into work and then hit the streets to help people.

And far too often do drivers put those lives at serious risk by not following Tennessee’s Move Over law.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

The law requires drivers to move into the adjacent lane, if possible, when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle. If the driver cannot move over, they are supposed to slow down as they pass.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Jimmy Brown said many drivers don’t do that, and he has come within inches of being hit.

“You can feel the wind coming off those cars and you know they were way too close to you,” he said. “Deputies and other first responders need space to work when they are responding to a scene.”

RELATED: Drivers still aren’t obeying the Move Over law in Tennessee

Two Tennessee Department of Transportation workers were killed in Middle Tennessee in 2016 by drivers who failed to move over.

The most recent happened on Christmas Eve on Interstate 40 West. James “J.R.” Rogers was struck while he changed a tire. He died several days later.

“Everyone wants to go home to their families,” Sgt. Brown said.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

Enforcement of the Move Over law can be difficult for officers since they are often stopped on the road working a traffic stop alone.

“If I am writing a citation and someone doesn’t move over I can’t stop what I am doing to give them a citation,” Brown said. “But if I am finishing a stop and they don’t move over I will pick up my step and get to my car.”

Brown said some drivers claim ignorance to the law, while others tell him they did not have room to move over.

News 2 requested enforcement data for the Move Over law from the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to the department, in 2016 troopers wrote 1,353 citations statewide to drivers who failed to move over. That is up from 2015 when 1,329 citations were written, but down by 28 percent when compared to 2014 when the department wrote 1,880 citations.

Drivers can face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for violating the law.