Thursday, November 10, 2016

Motorists reminded to move over for responders Traffic incident response awareness week, Nov. 14-18

JEFFERSON CITY – Every minute of every day emergency responders across Missouri work tirelessly to help save lives at the scene of traffic incidents. Across the country every year hundreds of emergency responders representing fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, towing and transportation agencies are struck and either injured or killed while responding. 

The Federal Highway Administration has declared Nov. 14-18, 2016, as the first national Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week. The Missouri Department of Transportation and its partners including the Missouri State Highway Patrol remind motorists to move over for any vehicle with flashing lights on the highway.

MoDOT and the State Patrol work every day to maintain a safe and reliable transportation system for Missourians. Traffic incidents on the roads jeopardize that and therefore MoDOT’s emergency response crews work to keep our system moving every day. In an average month, MoDOT emergency crews respond to 5,500 traffic incidents.

“MoDOT and its partners in law enforcement, fire, EMS and the tow industry work together to clear incidents but we need the help of motorists,” said MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. “Move over when you see responders on the road and give them extra space to work. They are out there trying to clear the road for you so give them space to work.”

Missouri’s Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes when approaching MoDOT vehicles, law enforcement vehicles and any other emergency vehicle with lights flashing. If drivers can’t change lanes safely, they must slow down as they pass the emergency vehicles.

"Every day, first responders spend countless hours along the side of Missouri's busiest highways," said Colonel J. Bret Johnson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "Whether writing a ticket, investigating a crash, or helping a stranded motorist, they are dangerously close to passing traffic. Move over, and give them some room. Remember their safety is in your hands."

In the past ten years, MoDOT has had three emergency response employees killed while working incidents on the road. During about the same time period, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has had three troopers killed and several others seriously injured in roadside incidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the total number of police-reported traffic crashes increased by 3.8 percent from 2014 to 2015. Traffic incident fatalities have increased 7.2 percent, which is the largest percentage increase in nearly 50 years. Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for police officers and EMS responders nationwide.

“When you see lights, vests, reflectors, move over and slow down. Give us room to work,” said Hassinger. “We’ve got your back. Do you have ours?”

For more information on the Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, please visit the national website at http://timnetwork.org/traffic-incident-response-awareness-week/ or visit MoDOT’s website at www.modot.org.