A Gwinnett County police officer’s patrol car was struck by another vehicle as the officer was working a single-vehicle accident early Tuesday morning, March 22, along Interstate 85 northbound.
The officer involved sustained minor injuries during the crash, and the patrol car and driver’s vehicle were removed by tow truck.
“This incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers our first responders and emergency vehicle operators face daily to keep our motorists safe,” a news release issued by the Gwinnett County Police Department reads.
The department is using this incident as a reminder to drivers to obey Georgia’s Move Over Law, also known as the Spence Pass Law O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16 (b) in honor of Spence Pass, a Highway Emergency Response Operator driver who was killed while assisting a vehicle. The law requires the driver of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red or blue lights to approach the emergency vehicle with due caution and, without any other direction by an officer, proceed to make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions. If a lane would be impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, the driver should reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
The same precautions should be taken when approaching a stationary towing or recovery vehicle, a stationary highway maintenance vehicle or a stationary utility service vehicle using traffic cones or displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, or red lights
According to FBI statistics, traffic crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings.
“A move-over conviction can come with significant consequences,” the news release continued.
A driver convicted of violating O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16 (b) will be punished by a fine up to $500, and 3 points will be added to the driver’s record. For those older than 21, an accumulation of 15 points or more in a 24-month period will result in a license suspension. In addition to the fine, if an accident, injury or death results from failing to move over, a driver could face criminal and civil liability for damages.