In an effort to raise awareness of New Hampshire’s “Move Over Law,” State Troopers from Troop B in Bedford teamed up with officers from the Nashua Police Department to target violations of the law this week. In just two hours, Troopers and officers stopped almost three dozen vehicles for various offenses, some of which include the move over law, speed, traffic control devices, and inspection violations. About sixteen summonses were issued, along with numerous warnings.
The effort came after a press conference that was designed to publicize and educate the public about this law. With cooperation from Troopers from Massachusetts State Police, the Nashua Police Department, Nashua Fire Rescue, and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, state police organized the effort to make drivers aware of the dangers faced by emergency personnel when stopped on highways.
While the law has been in effect in New Hampshire since 2005, and was modified as recently as 2008, many are unaware of or ignore the law. Consequences of such actions have had major effects on police. Between 1995 and 2006, 144 United States law enforcement officers were killed accidentally on motor vehicle stops or while directing traffic. As recently as last month, Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Douglas Weddleton was struck and killed while stopping a suspected impaired driver. Five California Highway Patrol Officers were killed in less than seven weeks in the last two months. Three of these were conducting traffic stops or assisting motorists on the highway.
More locally, two New Hampshire Department of Transportation employees have been killed in the last decade. There have also been several close calls reported by NH police, emergency personnel, tow truck operators, and highway workers. At least half a dozen have been seriously injured in recent years. In 2007, Officer Robert Moore of the Derry Police was stuck by a drunk driver while directing traffic at a construction site. He was struck in the right hip and catapulted over a truck about 30 feet onto the shoulder of the road. He spent the next three months recovering from his injuries.
Letter of the Law
According to the “Move Over Law,” RSA 265:37-a, “When in or approaching an incident involving a fire, collision, disaster, or other emergency resulting in partial or complete blockage of a highway, or a location where a police officer has made a traffic stop, every driver other than the driver of an emergency response vehicle, shall:
- Maintain a reduced speed.
- Obey the directions of any authorized person directing traffic and of all applicable emergency signals and traffic control devices.
- Vacate as soon as possible any lane wholly or partially blocked.
- Give a wide berth, without endangering oncoming traffic, to public safety personnel, any persons in the roadway, and stationary vehicles displaying blue, red, or amber emergency or warning lights.”