Pay Close Attention to Law Enforcement Officers Working our Roadways
Nationally, seven officers were killed in traffic-related incidents last year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve
Washington, DC—The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be a particularly dangerous time for law enforcement, as millions of Americans take to the roads, and officers step up safety patrols. Forty-three law enforcement officers died in traffic-related incidents in 2013. Those forty-three men and women left behind family, colleagues, neighbors, and friends who faced tragic loss instead of holiday cheer.
In August 2011, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated an innovative partnership to promote law enforcement officer safety on the roadways and reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities. In addition to maintaining a safe speed and driving only when sober, drivers need to be especially mindful of officers who will be out enforcing traffic laws.
The Memorial Fund’s Drive Safely campaign promotes a number of actions motorists can take to protect law enforcement officers, other drivers, and themselves:
- Slow down and “Move Over.” If you see emergency vehicles stopped by the side of the road, slow down and safely move over one lane if possible. All fifty states have enacted and are enforcing “Move Over” laws. Violators can be ticketed and fined.
- Focus on driving. Avoid talking on your cell phone, texting, eating, or hunting for items in your vehicle while driving. When traveling 55 mph or faster, a two-second distraction can be deadly. Adjust your speed for road conditions, especially snow and ice.
- Get out of the way of emergency vehicles. If an emergency vehicle has its lights or siren activated, slow down, move to the right, and stop if possible. Once the vehicle passes, do not follow it too closely.
- Stay off the shoulder. Driving on the shoulder of a roadway is not only illegal—it’s dangerous. Emergency vehicles use the shoulder to get to emergencies faster, where a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
- Watch officers’ hands as they direct traffic. And listen for whistles or other audible signals from officers on how to proceed.
“We want to make sure that our peace officers have the chance to enjoy this holiday season. The Memorial Fund’s Drive Safely campaign reminds motorists to pay special attention to officers on the roads, obey Move Over laws, and follow other common-sense traffic safety measures,” said Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd.
“Our law enforcement officers will dedicate time away from their own families so the rest of us can travel safely during the holidays,” he said. “Every time we get behind the wheel—and especially during the holidays—we owe these brave men and women our full attention and consideration.”
For more information, safety tips and resources, visit www.LawMemorial.org/DriveSafely.