This past June, Maryland State Trooper David Avila was making a routine traffic stop along Interstate 70 in Washington County, MD. Suddenly, the dashcam inside his vehicle captured a tractor-trailer side swiping Trooper Avila and his vehicle.
Trooper Avila was lucky to survive and is currently undergoing physical therapy for his injuries. “Sometimes I look at it, and it just doesn’t seem like there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “But I’m able to walk and doing a lot of physical therapy to get back.”
Throughout history, more than 5,000 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in traffic-related incidents, including automobile, motorcycle and bicycle crashes, as well as instances in which officers were struck and killed by another vehicle while they were outside their patrol vehicles.
Here are a few easy steps you can take to make our roadways safer for officers and others, and to help decrease officer injuries and fatalities. Please remember these every time you’re out on the road. Do your part to keep our peace officers safe.
- Give officers room on the roadway. When you see or hear a police or other emergency vehicle with its lights and siren activated, slow down, move to the right and stop if possible. Once the emergency vehicle passes, do not follow the vehicle too closely – give it plenty of room.
- Move over. When see you a police or other emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the roadway, slow down and, if possible, safely move one additional lane away from the stop. Forty-eight states have now enacted so-called “Move Over” laws, and violators can be ticketed.
- Never drive on the shoulder of a highway. This is not only illegal but also dangerous, as police and other emergency vehicles often use the shoulder to get to traffic crashes and other incidents.
This blog is part of a series highlighting the risks law enforcement officers face on the road, as part of an innovative partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to promote law enforcement officer safety on the roadways.