Trooper nearly hit by passing semi during traffic stop on I-94
October 22, 2012
State Patrol releases video of incident to remind drivers to move over
Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Charles Hotvedt narrowly escaped being hit by a passing semi truck during a routine traffic stop on I-94 eastbound in Eau Claire County on October 15. The close call was captured on the video camera in Trooper Hotvedt’s cruiser.
"Trooper Hotvedt approached the stopped vehicle on the shoulder of the interstate on the right or passenger-side," says State Patrol Captain Jeffrey Frenette, commander of the Northwest Region. "If he had been standing on the left or driver-side of the vehicle, there's no doubt in my mind he would have been hit by the semi traveling at highway speed. The semi driver eventually was stopped and issued multiple citations. The driver also was fatigued, which was a factor in the incident."
In light of this near tragedy, the State Patrol is reminding drivers to move over or slow down when encountering law enforcement and other emergency vehicles on the side of roadways. Wisconsin's Move Over Law requires drivers to shift lanes if possible or slow down in order to create a safety zone for a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.
"To create a safety zone on interstate highways and other divided roads with multiple directional lanes, you must move over to vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement or other emergency vehicle if you can safely switch lanes," says Captain Frenette. "If the road has a single directional lane or you can’t safely move over because of traffic, you must reduce your speed until safely past the vehicle."
Failure of motorists to create a safety zone by moving over or slowing down is one of the major reasons that motor vehicle crashes kill more law enforcement officers on duty than any other cause, according to Captain Frenette.
Last year, 10 State Patrol vehicles were hit while stopped on the side of roadways. These crashes injured eight officers and caused nearly $50,000 in damages to the State Patrol vehicles.
So far in 2012, six vehicles have been hit. Fortunately, there have been no injuries this year
but damages have totaled nearly $22,000. Many more officers, like Trooper Hotvedt, have experienced
Captain Frenette emphasizes, "By obeying the Move Over Law, drivers can protect themselves, their passengers, motorists who are stopped on the roadway shoulder, our officers and others who work on highways from needless injuries and deaths."
For more information, contact:
State Patrol Captain Jeffrey Frenette, commander of the Northwest Region
(715) 839-3800, firstname.lastname@example.org