Roadside Tragedy 7 Years Ago Reminder of the Importance to “Move Over” for Emergency Personnel

By Lt. Gregg Hastings
Oregon State Police

In remembrance of the 7th anniversary of an incident that claimed the lives of two police officers and critically injured a third, police officers around Oregon want motorists to continually be aware of the need to move over when driving near police, firefighters and other emergency personnel working on the side of our roads.

On September 4, 2001, a drowsy driver drove onto the shoulder of northbound Interstate 5 near milepost 243 and struck three officers as they were standing outside of patrol vehicles assisting a family in a disabled van. Oregon State Police (OSP) Senior Trooper Maria Mignano, age 39, and off-duty Albany police officer Jason Hoerauf, age 29, were killed. OSP Sergeant John Burright was critically injured.

That tragic incident led to Oregon’s “Move Over” law that has been in effect for five years, helping to keep emergency personnel safe as they work along Oregon roads. The “Move Over” law (ORS 811.147) states that if you are driving up behind or next to any type of emergency vehicle – police car, ambulance or public safety vehicle – working on the roadside with emergency lights flashing, you must:

  • Move over to another lane.
  • If you cannot safely change lanes, you must slow down.
  • In all cases, the driver must try to provide as much room as possible for the emergency vehicle.
Failure to comply with the “Move Over” law can result in a fine up to $355.

In addition to the new law, Oregon Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies have been working to educate as many people as possible of this law with the lofty goal of getting 100% compliance. In addition to stepped up enforcement, the statewide campaign includes new state highway signs, billboards, radio advertisements, transit bus signs, rest area posters and brochures promoting the “Move Over” safety message.

Forty-threestates have passed “Move Over” laws, but a recent study indicates approximately 70 percent of Americans are unaware of this law. According to national and state statistics:
  • More than 700 police officers have been killed in the last ten years when struck while working along highways.
  • Of the 27 OSP troopers who have died in the line of duty, three were hit by cars while stopped on the side of the road.
  • Since 2000, nearly 20 Oregon emergency service workers have been killed or injured while responding to an incident alongside the road.
Additional information and resources are available on ODOT’s website.