LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Slowing down and moving over when driving by first responders is not just for safety-- it's a law in Texas.
Thursday, Lufkin police officer Cody Deal responded to a crash at the intersection of 59 South and Southwood Drive. While there, his patrol unit and a tow truck were struck by a distracted driver.
“He was protecting a vehicle that had been involved in a crash there and was in the traffic lane,” Lieutenant David Young says.
Deal and a wrecker driver were just speaking about secondary accidents on the side of the road, outside their vehicles when a motorist came along and hit the back of his patrol car.
“It knocked the patrol car in a wrecker, damaging both of those pretty substantially,” Young says. “In this case, it appears the driver was focused on the other side of the roadway where another vehicle involved in that crash had stopped and was not watching where he was headed."
Like a lot of other states, Texas has a ‘Move over, Slow down’ law.
“If you approach a stopped emergency vehicle on or beside the roadway, you are required to move over and give one open lane between you and that emergency vehicle,” Young says.
If you can’t move over, Texas law requires drivers to slow down to at least 20 miles under the posted speed limit.
“Texas alone lost four police officers last year hit by vehicles on the scene,” Young says. “We still have an officer on light duty that was hit by a vehicle while investigating a crash back in April of 2019.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2017, 47 officers lost their lives in traffic-related incidents, with nine officers struck and killed outside their vehicles.
“Thankfully in this incident, no one was injured,” Young says. “Please pay attention. These are your sons and daughter’s out here.”
The police department says they released this body cam video to remind everyone of the importance of moving over and slowing down for first responders.