The Wisconsin State Patrol is reminding drivers to move over or slow down when encountering law enforcement and other emergency vehicles on the side of roadways.
Wisconsin's Move Over Law requires drivers to shift lanes if possible or slow down at least 10 miles under the speed limit in order to create a safety zone for a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.
To help get the message across to drivers, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation released a video of a trooper who was nearly hit by a passing semitrailer during a recent traffic stop on Interstate 94.
State Patrol Trooper Charles Hotvedt narrowly escaped being hit by a passing semitrailer during a routine traffic stop on I-94 eastbound in Eau Claire County on Oct. 15. The close call was captured on the video camera in Hotvedt's cruiser. People can watch the video here: www.dot.state.wi.us/news/images/moveover.wmv.
The failure of motorists to create a safety zone by moving over or slowing down is one of the major reasons that motor vehicle crashes kill more law enforcement officers on duty than any other cause, officials said.
WISC-TV went out on patrol with Bret Manke, a State Patrol trooper out of DeForest who said that those close calls don't have to happen.
"It is frustrating. I mean, it's a simple thing. All you have to do is be paying attention to not just what's in front of you but all in front of you, like you're required to do, Manke said.
Just as Manke was finishing one stop, a driver that could've changed lanes didn't. When Manke caught up with the driver, she said she didn't know she had to change lanes. Manke gave her a warning because he had slowed down.
Last year, 10 State Patrol vehicles were hit while stopped on the side of roadways. These crashes injured eight officers and caused nearly $50,000 in damages to the State Patrol vehicles.
So far in 2012, six vehicles have been hit. There have been no injuries so far in 2012 but damages have totaled nearly $22,000, according to the DOT. Officials said that many officers have experienced near misses.