ATLANTA — Three Atlanta-area police officers have been hit by passing motorists in the past four days while assisting others in their official duties.
Henry County Police Department Officer Elgin McDaniel was killed Monday after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while assisting another motorist who ran out of gas on the side of the road. Sadly, Officer McDaniel did not survive his injuries. On Nov. 9, two Carrollton police officers were hit by a motorist while investigating an existing pedestrian crash scene.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is strongly recommending that ALL Georgia motorists re-familiarize themselves with the state’s Move Over Law.
In effect since 2003, it requires drivers to move over one lane, if possible, whenever an emergency vehicle on the side of the road displays its lights. If traffic is too congested to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.
“I was so saddened to hear of Officer’s McDaniel’s tragic death,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. “The Move Over Law exists to protect emergency personnel in exactly these types of situations. The bottom line is that moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles is the law. It’s not a suggestion and disobeying it will cost you three points on your license and a fine up to $500.”
To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in Georgia, legislation allows local judges to set Move Over Law violation fines as high as five-hundred-dollars to help modify careless driver behavior. Penalties in some states range as high as a thousand dollars or more, with more states considering “move over” legislation like Georgia’s. And yet there are still far too many close calls from too many distracted drivers in Georgia and across the country.
“Georgia’s Move Over Law was enacted to protect our first responders as they go about performing their life-saving duties alongside our roads,” said Col. Mark W McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “For the safety of everyone – first responders, other drivers, victims and towing personnel – drivers should remain alert while driving and move over when approaching a flashing emergency light. If you can’t move over, then slow down well below the posted speed limit and be prepared for a sudden stop.