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To Keep Highway Emergency Responders Safe, Move Over

Katherine Taylor
Policeman Micah Veehrs works to keep the streets of Logan, Utah safe on Nov. 11, 2016.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71 percent of Americans don’t know what to do when passing an emergency vehicle on the shoulder of the highway.

“When they’re getting stopped for it, they’re saying, ‘Well, I wasn’t aware of that law,’” said Sergeant Todd Royce of the Utah Highway Patrol. “It’s been into effect for more than 10 years. Just to give you an idea, in the last three years, we’ve had 43 UHP vehicles hit on the shoulder of the road.”

Royce said officers are usually lucky enough not to get hurt, but these crashes present a real risk to emergency responders on the highway.

“We start to get a little bit tired of getting lucky, if you know what I mean,” he said. “We did lose a trooper last November up in Garland in a traffic crash. Horrific. And we don’t want that to happen again.”

On May 31, UHP partnered with the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Utah Professional Towing Alliance to hold an event in awareness of the simple, life-saving solution.

“Slow down and move over. Give us a lane. If you’re on a two-lane road, reduce your speed as you come past,” he said. “Just give them the courtesy of letting them know, hey look, I know you’re there, I respect what you’re doing, and I want to protect you so that you can go home to your spouse and your kids and do so safely.”