Posted on October 15, 2012 at 5:20 PM
Monday, Oct 15 at 5:20 PM
AUSTIN -- Police will join 18 other law enforcement agencies across Central Texas in a new traffic crackdown.
Officers and deputies are watching for drivers who don't follow the ‘move over’ law. The Texas law requires drivers to either move over or slow down by 20 mph below the posted speed limit when they approach an officer making an emergency stop on the side of the road.
However Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says state numbers show it's not happening enough, and officers are getting hit.
Last week Chief Acevedo stood alongside fellow officers to announce the crackdown. He said 175 officers nationwide have died in the line of duty since 1999, all because drivers didn't move over.
Chief Acevedo announced the inititive and warned drivers. Acevedo says motor officers will be monitoring the road, using radar guns.
“If you are not below the speed that you're required to drive at, you will be cited. A lot of folks will accuse us of trying to generate funds, and this is not about revenue generation. This is about saving lives. This is about respect for the law, and this is about respect for officers or tow operators or folks who are out on the highways trying to keep people safe,” said Chief Acevedo.
The Texas law isn't new. Forty-eight other states follow similar rules.
Senior Police Officer Chantal Locke has been with APD for 15 years. She's been patrolling the streets of Austin for 12 years. She's part of the effort across Central Texas to remind drivers to move over.
"Slow down. Be aware of your surroundings. We're not out here trying to generate revenue. We're trying to save lives," said Locke.
Specifically in Texas, drivers need to watch for emergency vehicles that are stopped and have their lights on. That includes tow truck drivers. The Tow Trucker's Association says 60 of its drivers die in crashes every year because a driver didn't move over.
Chief Acevedo says drivers themselves are also at risk.
“There [are] too many instances where not only police officers are getting killed, but our citizens are getting killed in secondary crashes because people are not respecting the move over law. We're not adhering to the move over law,” described Chief Acevedo.
KVUE's cameras were rolling when Austin police responded to a wreck on the shoulder of I-35 near William Cannon. Chaz Cleveland had wrecked his SUV.
"The person in front of them slammed on their brakes. That caused the person in front of me to slam on their brakes. By the time I slammed on my brakes, it was too late," said Cleveland.
In all, 19 agencies across Central Texas are participating in the crackdown. It stretches from Bexar County up past Georgetown.
The crackdown will last for few weeks -- from now until Nov. 2.