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Reminder to Motorists this Holiday Season: Pay Special Attention to Law Enforcement Officers Patrolling our Roadways

Nationally, four officers were killed in traffic-related incidents last year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve

November 21, 2012

Washington, DC—The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be a particularly dangerous time for law enforcement, as millions of Americans take to the roads, and officers step up their safety patrols. Fifty-nine law enforcement officers died in traffic-related incidents in 2011. Those 59 men and women left behind family, colleagues, neighbors, and friends, all of whom were faced with tragic loss instead of holiday cheer.

In August 2011, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated an innovative partnership to promote law enforcement officer safety on the roadways and reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities. In addition to maintaining a safe speed and driving only when sober, drivers need to be especially mindful of officers who will be out enforcing traffic laws.

The Memorial Fund’s Drive Safely campaign promotes a number of actions motorists can take to protect law enforcement officers, other drivers, and themselves:

  • Focus on driving. Avoid talking on your cell phone, texting, eating, or hunting for items in your vehicle while driving. When traveling 55 mph or faster, a two-second distraction can be deadly. Adjust your speed for road conditions, especially snow and ice.
  • Slow down and “move over." If you see an emergency vehicle stopped by the side of the road, slow down and safely move over one lane if possible. Forty-nine states now have “move over” laws, and violators can be ticketed and fined.
  • Get out of the way of emergency vehicles. If an emergency vehicle has its lights or siren activated, slow down, move to the right, and stop if possible. Once the vehicle passes, do not follow it too closely.
  • Stay off the shoulder. Driving on the shoulder of a roadway is not only illegal—it’s dangerous. Emergency vehicles use the shoulder to get to emergencies faster, where a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Watch officers’ hands as they direct traffic. And listen for whistles or other audible signals from officers on how to proceed.

"To help prevent officer deaths and injuries this holiday season, the Memorial Fund’s Drive Safely campaign reminds motorists to pay special attention to officers on the roads and to follow other common-sense traffic safety measures," said Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd.

“Again this year, our dedicated law enforcement officers will be called on to give up time with their own families so the rest of us can travel safely to spend the holidays with our loved ones,” he said. “Every time we get behind the wheel—and especially during the holidays—we owe these brave men and women our full attention and consideration.”

For more information, safety tips and resources, visit www.LawMemorial.org/DriveSafely.

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About the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Founded in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private non-profit [501(c)(3)] organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers and to promoting officer safety. The Memorial Fund maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which contains the names of 19,660 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibits, comprehensive collection of historical and contemporary artifacts, extensive resources for research, and diverse educational programming. For more information, visit www.LawMemorial.org.

Steve Groeninger
steve@nleomf.org | (202) 737-7135