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Law Enforcement Officers Ask Drivers To Move Over For Emergency Vehicles On The Shoulder

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A Maryland State trooper narrowly avoids losing his life in a situation that should call all drivers to attention.

Pat Warren explains a law many drivers may be ignoring.

You’re on the highway and see a police vehicle on a traffic stop on the side of the road. What do you do?

“I’ve been hit by a car,” Maryland State Police Trooper David Avila said into the radio after the June 14 accident.

Avila was on a traffic stop near Hagerstown when a tractor trailer drifted too near the shoulder, hit his cruiser and pinned him against the other car.

“I heard the rumble strip just before the vehicle came across or came towards me, took a quick glance over my shoulder and I saw it,” he said.

That accident left Avila with shoulder, back and leg injuries, and other complications.

“It just doesn’t seem like the light is at the end of the tunnel, but I’m able to walk,” he said.

Almost exactly a year earlier– June 21, 2011: Baltimore City Police Officer Theresa Rigby was thrown over the Jones Falls Expressway.

“She’s at the Pepsi plant,” the emergency dispatch radioed at the time. “You’ve got to go through the gate. She’s laying down there.”

Officer Rigby was on a traffic stop when a driver attempting to pass another car lost control and caused a chain-reaction crash that sent her over the road.

“All the prayers, all the prayers really helped,” Rigby said.

Both of these accidents occurred after October of 2012, when a new law enacted by the General Assembly took effect. That law requires you, the driver, to move over a lane when you see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the shoulder of the road. And if you can’t move over, slow down.

“It affects not only the officers, their families. Its also for protection,” Avila said.

If officers can risk their lives protecting us on the road, the least we can do is move over.

The video of Trooper Avila’s accident was released as part of his efforts to educate drivers to the new law.

The driver that swiped Trooper Avila was fined under the law.

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