After a second Illinois State Police trooper was killed while working along a highway this year, three Missouri state agencies — the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Department of Transportation — are uniting to urge motorists to slow down and proceed with extreme caution whenever they approach a stopped emergency vehicle. It's not just a recommendation – it's required by Missouri's “Move Over” law.
“Twice, in less than three months, a family has been devastated after losing a loved one in a crash that should not have happened,” Colonel Eric Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. “We’re asking drivers to ‘move over,’ as required by law.”
Illinois state trooper Brooke Jones-Story was killed Thursday in Freeport, Ill., after being struck by a semi-tractor trailer as she conducted an inspection of another truck on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 20. In January, Illinois state trooper Christopher Lambert was fatally hit by a vehicle as he assisted at a traffic crash scene.
“We ask all drivers to keep the safety of our public servants in mind when traveling Missouri roads,” MoDOT Deputy Director and Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger said. “They’re just trying to do their jobs and make it home safely that night.”
Missouri’s “Move Over” law requires motorists who encounter a stopped emergency services vehicle to “move over” and proceed with caution in the following ways:
— Proceed with caution and yield the right-of-way, if possible, with due regard to safety and traffic conditions by moving into a lane that is not adjacent to the stopped emergency vehicle while on a roadway with at least four lanes, at least two of which are in the motorist’s direction of travel.
— If a lane change is not possible, motorists must proceed with due caution and reduce their speed, maintaining a safe speed for traffic conditions.
National Work Zone Awareness Week begins April 8, which is a time dedicated to reinforcing work zone safety messages to the traveling public. But the officials are urging motorists to keep worker safety in mind at all times.
Nine members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol have been killed in the line of duty and several others seriously injured after being struck by vehicles in the performance of their duties. Four of those line of duty deaths occurred after the Move Over law passed — 134 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty since 1932.
“I hope these two tragic deaths in less than three months serve as a wakeup call for motorists who are multi-tasking and distracted in any way while driving,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “Please think of the people who are out there working to assist the public, and the families who love them and don’t want to lose them.”
The move over law (Section 304.022 RSMo.) initially went into effect in 2002 for emergency vehicles with red and blue lights. It has been expanded twice since then and now also includes vehicles whose amber or white lights are activated. The Move Over law is in effect to ensure the safety of men and women who work roadside in emergency services, including – law enforcement, fire and rescue workers, ambulance personnel and tow truck operators.