Florida focuses on Move Over Law in January | News
Tampa, Florida -- The Florida Highway Patrol's Sgt. Steve Gaskins knows the consequences of what happens when drivers fail to obey Florida's Move Over Law.
"In January 2009, I had stopped over in Polk County to assist some stranded motorists, before I could pull back into traffic, a passing motorist veered over into the emergency lane where I was. I had my lights on," said Sgt. Gaskins.
Before he had time to react, a pick up truck towing heavy construction equipment side swiped his cruiser.
One of the stranded motorists managed to jump over a guard rail in time to avoid the impact.
While Sgt. Gaskins was injured, he says he was not hurt severely.
Sadly, that was not the case for Trooper Patrick Ambroise.
In 2010, the 35-year-old father of two was killed on the Florida Turnpike.
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"He had just completed a traffic stop, he was on the road, he was struck from behind. The car burned up and he lost his life," said Sgt. Gaskins.
It's estimated more than 170 law enforcement officers have been killed in the United States and thousands more injured since 1999 as a result of being hit on the side of the road while doing their jobs.
Two Florida troopers are still recovering from their injuries sustained last year while on the job.
Trooper David Rodriguez has not been able to return to work since he was hit in Orange County last January.
Trooper Felecia Andrews is still in the hospital after she was hit last month in Broward County.
It's why Florida Highway Patrol and law enforcement across the state are putting an increased focus this month on catching drivers who violate the Move Over Law.
The Move Over Law requires drivers you to move over if you drive by law enforcement vehicles with lights flashing and/or emergency vehicles and tow trucks with lights flashing.
"If you cannot move over because it's a two lane road or traffic is heavy, you are required to reduce your speed by twenty miles under the posted speed limit," explained Sgt. Gaskins.
The consequences of not moving not only put live at risk, but it can be costly for you.
"There's points on your record, there's steep fines ranging in a few hundred dollars, depending on which county you are in," said Sgt. Gaskins.
Sgt Gaskins tells us so far this month, more than 150 drivers have been cited in the Tampa Bay area alone.