Pay Close Attention to Law Enforcement Officers Patrolling our Roadways
Nationally, 11 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents last year between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Washington, DC—The summer driving season between Memorial Day and Labor 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. Forty-three law enforcement officers died in traffic-related incidents in 2013, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund. Those 43 men and women left behind family, colleagues, neighbors, and friends, all of whom were faced with tragic loss.
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 or texting. In the U.S., 44 states plus U.S. territories ban text messaging for all drivers. Thirteen states plus U.S. territories prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Also refrain from 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. Wet pavement can be especially dangerous this time of year.
- 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 summer, the Memorial Fund’s Drive Safely campaign reminds motorists to closely follow U.S. laws aimed at distracted driving, move over when peace officers are visibly working, pay special attention to officers on the roads, and follow other common-sense traffic safety measures," said Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd.
“This summer, 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 vacation and spend time with our loved ones,” he said. “Every time we get behind the wheel we owe these brave men and women our full attention and consideration.”
For more information, safety tips and resources, visit www.LawMemorial.org/DriveSafely.
About the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, visitwww.LawMemorial.org.