THP to increase presence on roadways during holiday
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Jul 03, 2014 | 729 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 TENNESSEE Highway Patrol and Tennessee Department of Transportation officials launched a campaign recently to let drivers know about the law requiring them to move into the lane farthermost from where law enforcement or other vehicles may be stopped along the interstate system. Here, TDOT’s Lacy Word and Trooper Tony Cameron show the THP’s Twitter campaign hashtag.
TENNESSEE Highway Patrol and Tennessee Department of Transportation officials launched a campaign recently to let drivers know about the law requiring them to move into the lane farthermost from where law enforcement or other vehicles may be stopped along the interstate system. Here, TDOT’s Lacy Word and Trooper Tony Cameron show the THP’s Twitter campaign hashtag.
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It was evident throughout the weekend that Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers showed a high presence on Interstate 75.

According to THP officials, it was a five-state effort and will continue this week as the Fourth of July weekend begins.

“Staying Alive on I-75” enforcement is a part of the department’s “Drive to Zero Fatalities.”

“Move Over” offenders are also under the watchful eye of THP troopers.

The “Move Over Law,” which passed in 2006, is a part of the Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles Law” (T.C.A. 55-8-132) and requires motorists to move over into the adjacent lane of traffic, when safe to do so, or alternatively to slow down for emergency vehicles.

In 2011, the law was expanded to include utility service equipment to the list of vehicles for which motorists are required to either slow down or move over. The penalty for violating the “Move Over Law” in Tennessee is a maximum fine of up to $500 and possibly up to 30 days in jail, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety.

On the ground and in the air, troopers are monitoring motorists who may be driving impaired, distracted, over the speed limit, without seat belts and of course, failing to “Move Over” as they approach law enforcement or other emergency vehicle operations that occur along the interstate system.

The Move Over law requires the driver moves from the lane closest to an emergency vehicle, if it’s safe to do so, or slow down to a safe speed.

THP Col. Tracy Trott launched a #MoveOver initiative on Twitter in May after the tragic deaths of two law enforcement officers in apparent violations of the law. The goal of the social media campaign was to address the public safety challenge, raise public awareness of the law and attempt to prevent other tragedies on U.S. roadways.

Lt. John Harmon of THP said an emergency can happen on any part of the interstate system — including the median or on the shoulder.

“We ask that motorists ‘Move Over’ from the lane nearest the site of the incident,” Harmon said.

Recently, THP officials worked with local emergency responders to “Take only what was needed” at scenes of crashes.

“Our goal is to safely investigate and clear a scene as soon as possible,” Harmon said.

Strategic parking of emergency vehicles is a key to the safety of responders and victims of a crash along the interstate system.

“It is our job to perform all these services so travelers can get to their destinations and commerce can return to normal,” Harmon added.

Tennessee Department of Transportation HELP trucks have also played a crucial role for the past 15 years in aiding drivers and law enforcement at the scenes of crashes.

According to information provided by TDOT, “From flat tires to empty fuel-tanks or major interstate incidents, TDOT’s HELP program is celebrating 15 years of service in Tennessee’s urban areas.

Seventy-one operators statewide work three shifts, seven days a week.

“Motorists in our urban areas have come to depend on the timely and professional service of TDOT’s HELP trucks,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Our operators are also key partners with police and other first responders during serious incidents, all in an effort to clear our highways as quickly as possible and keep traffic moving. They are a wonderful asset to the department.”

Each minute a lane is blocked can translate into five minutes of delays for motorists. These delays can be dangerous for drivers and can lead to chain reaction accidents that further tie up Tennessee interstates. TDOT’s HELP program works to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and assist motorists who may be stranded on roadways.

“Our [HELP] drivers care deeply about their jobs and the service they provide,” Schroer added. “They often work long hours during major incidents, and face incredible risks each and every day. The gratitude shown by motorists gives them a sense of enormous pride in what they do.”

“Emergency responders all play a role with pride and integrity in the interest of the public’s and driver’s safety. At the end of our shift, we all want to go home to our families,” Harmon said.

Harmon also reminded drivers to take extra caution during the upcoming July 4 travel weekend.

Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, as well as Tennessee law enforcement, are continuing to promote the safety awareness of law enforcement and first responders.