Over the past three years, 32 Washington State Patrol troopers have been injured and 86 patrol cars damaged by drivers not slowing down or moving over in an emergency zone. On average, that’s one trooper and two patrol cars hit each and every month.
Washington State law RCW 46.61.212 requires that vehicles approaching an emergency zone should proceed with due caution, slow down, and if safe, move over or change lanes. Not doing so can run you a $214 citation that cannot be waived or reduced. In 2017 alone, troopers contacted more than three thousand eight hundred drivers for violating the move over law.
However, the move over law is about more than just monetary consequences. For troopers, the highways serve as an office; every time troopers get out of their car, there is a real, potential danger from passing motorists. In most cases, troopers who are hit, are typically working on the side of the road. Throughout this week, you’ve seen dash cam footage of real incidents where troopers have been hit, or almost hit, because of people not moving over.
But they aren’t the only ones at risk…
Always a Risk
Last year, Trooper Jeff Sevigney was patrolling the roads on his motorcycle when he came to a four-way intersection. As he continued through the green light, he saw a car start to make lane changes in his direction.
Without checking his blind spot, the driver pinned Trooper Sevigney between his vehicle and a guard rail. The impact knocked Trooper Sevigney off his bike and into oncoming lanes of traffic.
“I ended up with one plate, nine screws, a broken collar bone, and three months off of work because of the collision…but really, I’m thankful it wasn’t worse,” Trooper Sevigney explains.
He adds, “Whether troopers are working a DUI stop, helping a stranded motorist, or just out driving and patrolling the roads, it only takes a fraction of a second to ruin someone’s day or potentially their life.”
The Roads are an Office
Trooper Sevigney is just one of many stories of troopers being hit out on the roads. Whether it’s moving over for an emergency vehicle or being aware of your surroundings, it’s important to realize that the roads serve also serve as an office.
“It’s easy to become complacent when driving. A lot of times, we check our mirrors but don’t actually turn our heads to check our blind spots, or we just think it’s okay to send one text…we need to always be doing the little things to keep everyone safe. When you’re driving, just drive. We all want to get home safe,” says Trooper Sevigney.
Troopers put themselves at risk everyday trying to keep our roadways safe, please always be aware of your surroundings and move over if you see emergency vehicle lights up ahead.
Emphasis patrols will run from June 22 through June 24th.