The Maryland State Police recently released a video of a trooper being struck by a semi-truck as he conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 70 near Hagerstown. The video, recorded by the dash cam in the trooper's patrol car, demonstrates the serious threat that faces law enforcement officials when vehicles don't move over for emergency vehicles.
WARNING: Video content is graphic
In the video, Trooper David Avila is shown pulling over a sport utility vehicle and exiting his patrol car to speak to the driver. As he stands at the driver's side window, a tractor trailer drifts onto the right shoulder of the roadway, grazing the patrol car and then striking Avila, pinning him between the big rig and the SUV.
"I guess I heard the rumble strip just before the vehicle came across or came towards me, took a quick glance over my shoulder and kind of saw it and thank God," Avila told Fox45 in Baltimore.
Avila managed to stagger to the guard rail before he collapsed. He reportedly sustained injuries to his shoulder, back, and legs, and he is also suffering from post-concussive syndrome. He doesn't know if he will ever regain the use of his right hand, or if he will ever be able to return to work.
Police posted the video on YouTube to bring attention to Maryland's "move over" law, which requires drivers to give stopped emergency vehicles an extra lane of space. Avila says he hopes that sharing his story will remind motorists what's at stake when they don't follow the law. "It affects not only the officers, their families. It's also for protection," Avila said.
The truck driver was ticketed for negligent driving and failing to move over.
Missouri passed its own "move over" law in 2002, which requires drivers to change lanes when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying red or blue lights. In 2006, the penalty of the law was increased from a class C misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor. Effective August 29, 2012, the law was expanded to include protection for state Department of Transportation vehicles that display amber and white flashing lights. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, troopers issued 651 tickets for "move over" violations in 2010.
Within the last 10 years, four Missouri Highway Patrol troopers have been killed by drivers who failed to move over. All four troopers had exited their vehicles to perform traffic duties when they were struck. And all four had their emergency lights activated.
"All we are asking is for our motorists to pay attention to what they are doing. Driving is a full time responsibility. When you see an emergency vehicle -- slow down and move over if it is safe to do so," said Colonel James Keathley of the Highway Patrol. "The workers on our highways -- be they troopers, police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, or construction workers -- depend upon all drivers to be attentive to their presence."