GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Law enforcement officers say everyday they face many dangers on the job, but one they shouldn't have to worry about is being struck by a passing car while they're making a traffic
Gulfport police have launched a campaign to raise awareness about Mississippi's Move Over Law.
Every time a law enforcement officer pulls someone over that officer is facing a potentially dangerous situation in more ways than one.
"You are approaching the vehicle, maintaining eye contact with all the occupants to include the driver," said Sgt. Damon McDaniel with the Gulfport Police Department. "Then in the back of your mind you're wondering how close you are to being injured with the traffic that is passing by."
Police set up a mock traffic stop on Monday to show WLOX crews how Mississippi's Move Over law works. When emergency vehicles are on the side of the road with their lights flashing, by law drivers must shift out of the lane adjacent to the emergency vehicle if possible.
"You're supposed to allow for the space for an officer to be able to, where if he's in an emergency situation, like he's fighting or something you are able to respond without causing any damage to vehicles or life," McDaniel said. "If you cannot move over to the next lane available or if the traffic is congested, then you must reduce your speed to where you can safely react if something were to happen with the officer on the side of the road."
Police said because of some drivers not following the law, some officers are having to take steps to protect themselves.
"What some of the Gulfport police officers are doing to protect themselves, because we've seen where motorists do not move over as in the Move Over law, the officer actually blocks a portion of that lane to make himself or herself safe during the traffic stop," said McDaniel. "Where if something were to happen they would collide with the police vehicle instead of colliding with them as they're making their traffic stop."
This law also applies to highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks that are clearing an accident scene.
Drivers who fail to move over could face fines up to $250 and if the driver causes damage to vehicles or injures someone, they can face up to a $1,000 fine.
"Nationwide every year we hear an officer or a trooper or a deputy or someone in law enforcement being killed or severely injured on a traffic stop, whether it be day time or night time," McDaniel said."So with that Move Over law here in the state of Mississippi we want to raise the awareness to the motoring public to say 'Move over.'"
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