Police officers put their lives on the line every day in the service of their communities. They know that every time they put on their uniforms, their lives are at risk. The least of their worries should be whether they will suffer injuries when pulling over a vehicle on the side of the highway.
However, considering the fact that 29 Colorado State troopers were injured within the last year in traffic-related incidents puts this high on the list of worries. The number of troopers hit by vehicles increases the concern not only for officers but for civilians as well. Anytime someone pulls over onto the shoulder and steps out of his or her vehicle, the possibility of serious injury or death is a threat.
No driver can predict when he or she will encounter a mechanical issue or a flat tire on the highway. A driver, and possibly passengers, could not be more vulnerable as cars go by at highway speeds. Anyone struck by a vehicle under these conditions would be lucky to survive. Therefore, law enforcement officials are asking drivers to be mindful when a police officer, or anyone, stops on the highway.
To be safe, drivers should pull over into the next lane and slow down. So-called "move over" laws exist in every state (Washington, DC does not have such a law). Colorado's law obligates drivers to either move into a farther lane or slow down no less than 20 mph under the speed limit posted in the area when a law enforcement officer or other safety official is stopped in the road or on the shoulder.
Distracted drivers cause many of the injuries suffered by troopers. If a driver is distracted enough to hit a trooper, less chance exists that a civilian would be spared injury. When someone, including law enforcement officials, are seriously injured in this manner, he or she typically retains the right to file a personal injury suit -- or a wrongful death claim by the family in case of death -- against the driver deemed responsible. These civil claims are apart from any workers' compensation benefits that may be applicable to injuries suffered while on the job. Any award of damages could aid in the financial recovery of a victim or victim's family.
Source: thedenverchannel.com, Authorities urge Colorado drivers to slow down, move over after 29 state troopers hit in last year, April Nowicki, Feb. 13, 2014