JEFFERSON CITY – Emergency responders face potential dangers every day. As a reminder, the Federal Highway Administration has declared the week of Nov. 11-17 as National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week.
The Missouri Department of Transportation and its safety partners remind motorists to move over when approaching MoDOT, law enforcement and fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), towing vehicles and any other emergency vehicle with lights flashing.
“Working on the side of the highway is a dangerous place,” said MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. “Our partners in law enforcement, fire, EMS and the tow industry work together to clear incidents, but we need the help of motorists. Move over when you see responders on the road and give them extra space to work.”
In an average month, MoDOT emergency response personnel respond to approximately 5,900 traffic incidents. In the past 10 years, MoDOT has had three emergency response employees killed while working incidents on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for police officers and EMS responders nationwide. Each year hundreds of emergency responders representing fire, law enforcement, EMS, towing and transportation agencies are struck and either injured or killed while responding to traffic incidents.
There were more than 7.2 million police-reported traffic crashes in the United States in 2016, up from more than 6.2 million in 2015, according to NHTSA. From 2010 to 2016, the number of police reported traffic crashes increased by 1.8 million.
Missouri’s Move Over law requires drivers to either change lanes or slow down when approaching stationary MoDOT vehicles, law enforcement vehicles and emergency vehicles when the vehicle’s lights are displayed. If drivers can’t change lanes safely, they must slow down as they pass the stationary vehicles. Missouri’s law was recently expanded to include utility vehicles displaying amber or amber and white lights.
The first Move Over law in the United States was passed in 1996 after a South Carolina paramedic was struck and injured at an accident scene in 1994. Today, all 50 states enforce some form of the Move Over law.