Move over for vehicles on the side of the road

When most of us think of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers in the line of duty, we are imagining the kind of violence that comes from them being first responders. Most of us do not think of writing traffic tickets or directing traffic as times of extreme danger for officers.

“It’s consistently one of the most dangerous things an officer can do,” said Capt. Aaron Nedeff of the Marietta Police Department, referring to directing traffic.

Certainly Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Sgt. Eric Knowlton found himself in what could have been a deadly situation last week when a tractor-trailer struck his patrol car and the vehicle he had pulled over for a traffic stop. Though he is at home recovering now with stitches and bruises after having been airlifted — unconscious — to Columbus for treatment of his injuries, OSHP Marietta Post Commander Lt. Chris Chesar said Knowlton is “very fortunate.”

Distracted, tired or impaired drivers are an enormous danger to the rest of us. But, frankly, so are those who simply ignore the law and fail to understand the amount of space they are working with, on a four-lane highway.

If it is safe to do so, drivers are required to move into the left lane when they see government vehicles or tow trucks working on the side of the road. Nedeff took that a step further, though, and reminded drivers if they see an emergency vehicle with its lights on, they need not only to move over, but start looking for the officer.

“Be prepared to come to an immediate stop,” he said.

Slow down, move over, pay attention — be aware of your surroundings … it seems like common sense advice for anyone operating a vehicle, but too many drivers ignore it.