SARASOTA (FOX 13) - First responders are often put their life to risk while doing their jobs on the side of the road, and an awareness campaign aims to bring drivers' awareness toward their presence.
Florida State Trooper Ken Watson took FOX 13 News along as he performed traffic stops along U.S 41 in Sarasota. It was clear, some drivers disregarded his presence on the side of the road.
But it's not just an inconvenience for Trooper Watson. It's illegal.
"It is the most dangerous thing that law enforcement officers are going to encounter on a daily basis," Trooper Watson explained.
The dangers to first responders are the reason for the Move Over law and for the month of January being dedicated to making the public aware of the dangers.
But the dangers are not only a concern for first responders. Road rangers and tow truck drivers face the same dangers.
On December 14, Sarasota tow truck driver, Timothy Canary was hit by a dump truck while standing on the side of Interstate 75.
Canary was wearing a reflective vest, and had his truck's high beams and flashing lights on, but the driver of the dump truck did not move over.
"The phone call was my son in tears saying, 'you've got to meet me at the hospital, I've been hit,'" Canary's mother, Tina Meyer remembered.
Canary is still recovering, while the driver of the dump truck has not been found.
"Please obey those laws. People's lives are in danger," said Meyer.
Even with the Move over campaign, troopers said there were 161 crashes last year. They want this year's number to come down.
"Quite frequently, people are driving distracted, so by the time they reach the policeman, or the trooper or even the tow truck driver it is too late they have no time to move over," said Trooper Watson.
The Move Over law is simple to follow.
- You must move over one lane
- Or slow down 20 miles per hour under the speed limit
While it is simple to follow, it is clear many don't.
"The most important thing for any law enforcement officer or service man is to come home safely and we need your help to do it," said Trooper Watson.
The fine for not moving over in Sarasota County is a $136 ticket and 3 points on your drivers license.