Moving Over for the Law

JONESBORO, AR -- With the Fourth of July holiday just days away, many people are making plans to leave town and that likely means traveling on Arkansas highways and interstates. As usual, tickets for speeding will be issued, but this week certain officers are writing tickets for not moving over.

Starting Monday, a national campaign has launched to educate drivers about the 'Move Over Law', there to protect officers on the roadways.

"I can recall two state troopers that have been killed in similar accidents where traffic just ran over them while they were talking to a motorist," says Captain Tommy Wicker with the Arkansas State Police.

And that's just in Arkansas. More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed in the last 10 years after being struck by a vehicle on the side of the road during a traffic stop.

Arkansas passed the 'Move Over' law in 2003. 40 states have the law in place and still, a poll sponsored by the National Safety Commission shows 71 percent of Americans have not even heard of the 'Move Over' laws.

"The law is really important to our officers and to the safety of our officers. In fact, our training session has started training to approach from the right side of the vehicle when you can, when it's possible and talk with the driver from the passenger side of the car," says Wicker.

When the laws first passed around different states, officers often just wrote warnings to drivers who were unaware of the 'Move Over' law, but Captain Wicker says now there's not many excuses.

"Now the highway department has put up signs telling the public that this is the law. A lot more citations are being written now that these signs are in place and the public should be a lot more aware of the law," says Wicker.

And even if you can't move over into another lane, they say you still should slow down and be extremely careful when passing by stopped vehicles.

"It's scary out there standing just inches away from the lane of traffic with traffic moving like it does. If it's a police officer, if it's an ambulance, or if it's even a vehicle broke down on the side of the road, if it's possible, move over. It's just a lot less chance for something to happen," adds Wicker.

In Arkansas, if you don't move over, you could face some steep penalties including a $500 fine, up to 90 days in jail and seven days of community service.