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Thread: Move over laws need bigger teeth
03-01-11, 08:45 PM #1
Move over laws need bigger teeth
Written by Mark Nichols
When people think about police officers killed in the line of duty, they usually envision a cop being killed by an armed assailant with a long criminal history. There's no question that armed assailants represent a very deadly threat to the men and women of public safety. But a greater threat, as far as the numbers go, is a cop getting killed by a vehicle. It could be a crash during a high-speed pursuit or it could be a distracted or careless driver hitting an officer who was handing a pulled over motorist a speeding ticket.
According to a recent article on NWCN.com, Idaho's move over law has been on the books for almost five years but Idaho police say drivers are not obeying it. Several months ago, a car passing too closely shattered the side mirror of a Boise Police patrol car as the officer was pulled over to help a motorist changing a tire.
Nobody was hurt, but officers who are out on the roads say they experience far too many close calls. "Most people slow a little bit," Boise Police Sgt. Kyle Christensen told reporters. "Some people go past us in excess of the posted speed, but on a daily basis, well every time I make a stop I notice people who don't move over."
Christensen has been on patrol with the Boise Police Department for 23 years. He says every stop he makes is dangerous. Not just because you never know who you're dealing with until contact is made, but because not enough people are abiding by Idaho's move over law.
"Sometimes traffic is so heavy that you can't make a lane change, but you're required to do everything in your efforts to move over," Christensen told NWCN. The law's been in effect since 2006 and requires a driver to move over for any police or emergency vehicle that has their lights flashing.
If you can't move over, a driver has to at least slow down well below the posted speed limit. Christensen and his partner say some drivers aren't aware of the law. Others just don't seem to care. "You can see some of them are trying," said Christensen.
"This guy right here is trying to move over, but people just aren't letting him in, but there are other people who have ample opportunity to move over and they just choose not to." Christensen says failing to move over makes his job much more dangerous. "Almost daily people go by and it's very unnerving, especially when you're working someplace like on the interstate where it's a 65 or 75 miles per hour speed limit," Christensen said.
"I've often thought that if I ever get killed in this job it won't be by someone who shoots me, it'll be by someone who runs me over." One of the ways that state officials could put some teeth into the law is by increasing the fine for breaking it. The penalty for failing to move over is an infraction, which costs an $85 fine.
Perhaps it might be time to add a zero to that figure to indicate to drivers the risks that cops on the roads are taking to serve and protect.
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