Fatal Accident Shining Spotlight on Law Enforcement Safety

Published 02/04 2014 06:00PM

Updated 02/05 2014 09:53AM

By Ashley Hinson

LUBBOCK, TX – An accident off Highway 84 near Post Tuesday, that left one dead and three others injured including a sheriff’s deputy, is bringing to light the dangers law enforcement faces while responding to accidents on busy roads. 

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, every year officers are either injured or killed by passing cars on our nation's roadways.

Sgt. Jason Lewis with the Lubbock Police Department said being on the side of the road while making traffic stops and working accidents, is a dangerous job. 

“This is common where people are just struck on the side of roads,” said Lewis.  “It's obviously a problem.”

Lewis said it becomes even more of a problem when roadways turn icy, like we saw Tuesday morning on Highway 84.  According to the DPS, a Garza County sheriff’s deputy was hit and injured by an 18-wheeler that lost control.

“That’s the first thing that crosses your mind is who is it,” said Lewis.

“We have officers struck every year in bad weather like this,” Said DPS Sgt. Bryan Witt.  “You know we are called out to work these crashes in the same conditions that people are driving in and we want to remind people that we are out here trying to save lives and help the motorists, that to just slow down and give us some common courtesy.”

Slowing down when you see red and blue flashing lights on the shoulder, however, isn’t courtesy—it’s the law.   

In 2003, Texas enacted the Move Over or Slow Down law which requires drivers to move out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle.  If traffic prohibits the driver from changing lanes, they must slow down to 20 mile per hour under the speed limit.

“That’s not just for the officer that's for everybody involved,” said Lewis.  “That's for the people that are with the officer and for you, too.”

The Move Over or Slow Down law has since expanded and now includes tow-trucks and TxDOT vehicles. 

If caught violating the law you could face up to $2,000 in fines and even face jail time if someone is injured. 

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