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The holiday weekend means more travelers on Virginia roads, more travelers mean more vehicles and more vehicles mean the possibility for more accidents.
With thousands taking to the roads this weekend, and throughout the holiday season, the Virginia State Police have announced a new public awareness campaign to remind Virginians of the importance of the "Move Over" law.
It's a message worth taking time to consider.
The fact is that moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles and personnel stopped on the side of a road is the law. More importantly, as the State Police note in a press release on their effort, it can "mean the difference between life and death for a public safety professional conducting a traffic stop or investigating a traffic crash."
And the dangers extend beyond just law enforcement.
In the past couple of years, Bedford has certainly been reminded of this.
Just last week, a city of Bedford work crew was repairing a water main break on Burks Hill Road when an automobile exiting off of U.S. 460 struck one of the workers at the site and rammed into the back of the crew's dump truck, injuring another worker sitting inside. According to the report, there were three signs warning drivers of the work site as well as cones directing vehicles to another lane.
Other factors apparently played into the accident ? the driver of the vehicle has been charged with DUI ? but the message is the same: Slow down or move over.
A similar incident occurred two years ago when a motorcycle hit a Virginia Department of Transportation flagman on Va. 122.
Captain Stephen Rizzuto of the Bedford Police Department had this reminder following last week's accident: "People need to slow down and move over, not just for police but for work crews and even for a regular citizen who has broken down. It really brings home the fact that you need to slow down when you approach road crews."
The department knows that well.
Almost two years ago, Tim Stanley of the Bedford Police Department was stuck by a pick-up truck on New Years Day during a traffic stop. All-in-all, Stanley was lucky, as such incidents go. He was able to return to work within just a couple of days.
Many aren't so fortunate.
When making stops, officers many times find themselves in situations where a matter of inches makes the difference on life and death. In Stanley's case, if the truck had been a few inches closer, his situation could have been much worse. For many it is.
That's why this reminder is important to remember. That's what the Virginia State Police want folks to take note of as the holidays approach.
?Every trooper while out on the road has experienced more than one ?near miss? with a passing motorist,? said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. ?We are asking drivers to be alert and comply with the Move Over law when passing police, rescue, and fire personnel stopped on the side of the road. Their lives depend on it.?
Drivers need to change lanes when approaching an emergency vehicle with its lights on. If that's not possible, drivers need to slow down.
Those out serving the public have just as much right to be able to safely enjoy the holidays as those of us driving the roads. With that in mind, let's all take note and:
Move over or slow down.