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By Megan Woolhouse

Globe Staff / October 19, 2008

State Trooper Dana Cresta had no time to run. As he stood in the breakdown lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike, investigating a car crash early yesterday, a fast-moving 2008 Nissan Maxima careened into him. The impact sent Cresta through the Nissan's windshield.

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The trooper survived, but he sustained serious injuries and was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The accident was a prime example of the dangers troopers face when they pull over to investigate crashes or make traffic stops. Now, some legislators have renewed calls for a state law that would require highway drivers to move out of the right lane when emergency vehicle lights are flashing.
State Representative Christine E. Canavan, a Brockton Democrat, said she has been sponsoring the legislation, called the "Move Over Law," because too many police officers and tow truck drivers are hurt or killed on the side of the highway every year by errant drivers.
"So many states do something and we don't," Canavan said yesterday.
Her proposal would require drivers on highways of two lanes or more to give wide berth to emergency vehicles parked on the roads with their lights flashing. Drivers would also be required to slow to speeds 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit, or face a ticket of at least $100.
Canavan said she has sponsored the legislation four times in eight years. Although she has never heard opposition to the measure, it has failed to win approval. She said her current bill is mired in a legislative committee, where it has been included in omnibus bills.
Forty-three states have passed similar laws, according to the group Move Over America, a coalition of national law enforcement agencies that advocate for the measure. Earlier this year, New Hampshire enacted the law, expanding it to include construction trucks with amber lights used by its Department of Transportation workers. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as Delaware, Hawaii, and Nebraska, are the only states, as well as Washington, D.C., that have not.
The Massachusetts Association of Chiefs of Police supports the Move Over America law. President A. Wayne Sampson laughed when asked whether he thought the Legislature would approve the measure.
"We're not aware of a single person opposed to it," he said.
Sampson said some research by national law enforcement groups has shown that drivers are sometimes mesmerized by the spinning lights on emergency vehicles and inadvertently drive toward them on the highway.
"People focus on the lights and the brighter they are, the more it distracts them," he said. "We have deep concerns for every officer that makes a moving stop at any time of day."
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, which oversees the State Police, also supports the legislation. Spokesman Terrell Harris said he did not have information on the number of police officers injured each year on highways, but the legislation is considered to be a benefit to police safety.
Harris said it is impossible to say whether the law would have prevented yesterday's crash. For one thing, the driver of Nissan was charged with drunk driving. For another, drivers don't always abide by traffic laws.
"Incidents like this are always discouraging to the people who try to keep us safe," Harris said. "But those people aren't going to let it stop them from going out and doing their jobs to the best of their ability."
The Towing and Recovery Association of America estimates that about 55 tow truck drivers are killed each year in the United States.
In Massachusetts, two tow truck drivers were killed in 2004 as they sat in the breakdown lane along Interstate 495 in Brockton.
Timothy Kelly, 23, of Bridgewater, and Jarrod Drew, 24, of Brockton, worked for A-1 Affordable Towing of West Bridgewater. Drew was there to help Kelly, whose truck had broken down on the highway.
As the two men worked in the breakdown lane shortly before dawn on Feb. 20, they were struck by Daniel Cummings, 21, of Raynham.
Cummings later pleaded guilty to two counts of motor vehicle homicide and was sentenced to four to five years in jail.
Yesterday's crash occurred shortly before 3 a.m. on the Mass. Pike in Newton. Cresta had been investigating an earlier crash; the occupants of that car had fled. He was struck by a Nissan driven by Patrick J. Sullivan, 23, of 84 Parker Road in Framingham.
Cresta sustained injuries to his head, face, legs, and ribs. Police described his condition as serious, but improving.
Sullivan was not injured. He was arrested and charged with operating under the influence, operating in a break down lane, and operating to endanger. He will be arraigned this week, State Police said.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/10/19/move_over_law_sought_after_trooper_struck/
 

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Doubt it would have made a difference since the operator of the vehicle who hit the trooper was drunk and obviously did not care about the laws when he got behind the wheel!
 

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Law would punish drivers for crowding emergency vehicles

By David Riley/Daily News staff
GHS
Posted Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:35 PM

A so-called "move over law" might not have protected a state trooper who was hit by an alleged drunken driver from Framingham Saturday as he investigated an accident in the breakdown lane on the Mass. Turnpike.

But the incident highlights the risk that police, emergency crews and tow truck drivers take every time they step out of their vehicles to help someone on the side of the road.

Several local legislators said yesterday they would at least consider a state bill sponsored by Rep. Christine E. Canavan, D-Brockton, that aims to lessen that danger. The legislation would require highway drivers to move out of the right lane any time an emergency vehicle is stopped with its lights flashing, and/or slow down or face a ticket of at least $100.

"It does seem to be a no-brainer," said state Rep. Pam Richardson, D-Framingham. "Our emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day, and the least that we can do is support legislation that creates a safer work environment for them."

Trooper Dana Cresta, a 23-year veteran of the force, was still hospitalized yesterday at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, State Police Lt. Eric Anderson said.

"He is recovering, but he is still classified as serious," Anderson said.

Patrick J. Sullivan, 23, of 84 Parker Road, Framingham, was unhurt after he slammed his 2008 Nissan Maxima into Cresta, state police said. He is charged with driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury, driving in the breakdown lane and driving to endanger.

Several legislators said they were unfamiliar with Canavan's "move over" proposal, but would likely look for more information on it. "It seems to make sense," said state Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland.

"I think it certainly is something that is worth taking a look at," said state Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland. "I would first want to talk to public safety officials to get their feedback."

State Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, said the bill sounds logical and he will look into it. But he also said he is unsure it would have helped Cresta, and if alcohol fueled Saturday's accident, there are already laws on the books to punish that offense.

Giving emergency vehicles a wide berth should be basic common sense, Fernandes said. In general, the legislator said he is troubled by an erosion of basic courtesy on highways.

"With so many people on the road, the burden rests with all of us, the drivers, to try and be mindful of the powerful weapon we have in our hands when we're going down the road," Fernandes said.

Spilka said merging away from emergency vehicles in the breakdown is "safe and reasonable." But she wants to be sure public safety officials see no disadvantages in the legislation. Spilka wondered whether it would cause problems as drivers try to merge left en masse into a packed lane of traffic.

"In general, I think we have to put a higher priority on our roads and bridges and transportation in general to make sure there is a safe space for breakdown lanes for cars," Spilka said.

Richardson said the legislation could help remind drivers to respect emergency personnel on the road.

"I think sometimes we put laws in place so people recognize something that should be common sense," she said. "It's unfortunate that we have to sometimes put these things into law, but the reality is there are so many distracted drivers out there today who don't automatically slow down or move over when they are passing the scene of an accident."

Move Over America, a partnership of the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Association of Police Organizations, says 43 states have similar laws on the books.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/s...unish-drivers-for-crowding-emergency-vehicles
 

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The proposed law is the same one that we have here, and unfortunately despite a lot of publicity, not a alot of people follow it. For years there were public service announcement stickers attached to gas pumps here warning people of the law, and still when we do enforcement details, everyone claims they knew nothing of it. At the end of the day, the majority of the public doesn't care enough about our safety. Moving over one lane might slow down their trip 2 seconds, and we don't want to do that.
 

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What is taking so long for a law like this? It may not work all the time, but every bit helps.

They should have attached it to the flagger law.....they got that one in pretty quick.

Note to Deval and the lawmakers: If less Public Safety people are hurt/killed by drivers not moving over you will have to spend less on injured on duty benefits or death benefits. THINK SAVINGS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH. Don't worry about us....just think savings and additional revenue if we write tickets.
 

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i think this is the wrong response to the incidents this weekend. did the media conveniently forget these two individuals were both DK? probably niot unreasonable to assume that if they were f'cked up enough to ram the back of a cruiser they wouldn't have had the sense to move a lane over and avoid all this.

how about stepping up grants for OUI enforcement, increased sobriety checkpoints in problem areas, toughening the sanctions (increase suspension terms, community service etc), and eliminating those damn hardship licenses? People in this state don't care about a lousy $100 gig. What they care about is being inconvenienced and that's where the justice system needs to hit them.
 

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If I remember correctly, there is a move over law in 48 out of the 50 states now.

Sure,

I think we can only do so much to stop DUI/OUI. Alcohol is such an integral part of our society, it is always going to happen to some extent. People get behind the wheel impaired, know the circumstances, and do it anyway, because they feel that they are invincible/won't get caught, and just don't care about others. While enforcement and checkpoints do have an affect on those who are arrested, I don't think it has much of a general deterrence effect. Enforcement will get a few more drunks off the road, but to have a real effect we need to find a way to curb the social problem behind it, and I'm not sure what the answer is there.
 

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Let me guess the last 2 states are MA and RI.

True it might save one life and that is better then no lives saved at all. Similar to how most people pull over when they hear/see sirens and lights on an emergency vehicle.
 

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I'm not a big fan of more m/v laws for one. 2nd, the volume of traffic in this state is incredibly high to make such a law effective. I believe that ONE person who's trying to do the right thing would probably cause another crash with the hundreds of other drivers who don't give a crap and are not paying attention.

Picture this: I-495 or Rt 128 during commute and there's a crash, dmv, or whatever with emergency vehicles in the BDL. One lonely motorist decides to "move over" and drop 20 mph below the limit into the 2nd or 3rd travel lane. Can you say...multi-car pile up?

The move over law would just cause more unsafe lane changes. Just my 2 cents. How about prosecuting OUI crashes with injuries a serious offense in court, not just the joke that it is already; CWOF, dismissed, reduced to OTE, etc.
 

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Sine,

It actually works fairly well for the most part. While a lot of people don't bother with it, those who do, do it safely. In general, you have to move in to the next available lane OR if unable to do so, drop 20 MPH below the speed limit, not both.

I do agree with stronger penalties for DUI arrests. I've made around 30 or so DUI arrests this year, and I've seen everything from great cases dismissed without reason, felony DUI charges, dropped to 1st offense misdemenors, and even a 6th offense felony dropped to a "wet" reckless driving because the offender was sickly and the state attorney felt that a jury would feel bad for it. We are out there doing the work, and the state is dropping the ball in my opinion. I'm sure it's the same there. Prosecutors are afraid to go to trial, and plead down everything.
 
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