OREGON -- When you're driving on the highway, you're likely to see law enforcement, road crews or civilians pulled over on the shoulder, but do you obey Oregon's Move Over Law?
KEZI 9 News talked to Gary Provencal, the owner of Kokua Towing in Roseburg, to get a firsthand look at what he and his crew go through on a daily basis.
Every day, emergency vehicles, road crews, tow companies and regular citizens have their lives put at risk by simply pulling over on the side of the highway.
"Believe it or not, I want to see my kids and my grandkids for the next few years," Provencal said.
Provencal said the statistics of people who die from being struck by drivers across the nation are staggering.
"I'm not talking about injuries. I'm talking about fatalities," Provencal said. "One person every six days, and the numbers are climbing."
In 2001, Oregon State Trooper Maria Mignano pulled over to help a family in a disabled van just outside of Portland. She pulled in behind Albany Police Officer Jason Hoerauf, who was doing a ride-along with another trooper.
While all three of them were standing on the right side of the van, which was parked in the right-hand shoulder, a pickup truck swerved across a lane of traffic and hit Mignano's patrol vehicle and all three officers. Mignano and Hoerauf died from their injuries.
Provencal said even tow truck crews have to stay aware.
"I can't think of an instance on the side of the highway where we haven't had a close call at least two or three times," Provencal said.
Lt. Steve Mitchell with Oregon State Police said people also need to keep an eye out for civilian vehicles.
"The bottom line is, people need to be outside their vehicles," Mitchell said. "Whether they're changing a tire or whether there's some type of mechanical error, or maybe they're having some type of medical emergency."
Under the "Slow Down, Move Over" law, drivers are supposed to either slow down to 5 mph under the speed limit or move over to give vehicles with hazard or emergency lights enough room.
Mitchell said when the law was first introduced years ago, it only focused on emergency vehicles like police, fire and ambulances. That has changed over the years to include ODOT, tow trucks and civilian vehicles as well.
"A lot of times people don't realize that laws change -- new elements get incorporated within the law," Mitchell said.
KEZI wanted to know how police are enforcing the law right now.
"Typically, what we like to do is try to educate them at the lowest level possible," Mitchell said. "If that's to give them a warning, then that's what we try to do, and we try to educate them as to the importance of moving over or slowing down."
If you don't abide by the law, it could cost you up to $355 dollars. Both Mitchell and Provencal said it's not that everyone doesn't move over, but all it takes is one person not paying attention to destroy people's lives, including their own.
"That one life has a family, and their families have families," Provencal said. "One life can affect hundreds of people, and if we can save that one life, then all the work that everybody's done from all these agencies is worth it. Is absolutely worth it."
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