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Snowy roads in Bloomfield Township over the last couple of weeks put at least one police officer’s life in danger. The officer was hurt when a car lost control, but the outcome could have been much worse.
The icy road conditions on February 14, 2015, spelled trouble for several cars in the Metro Detroit area. In Bloomfield Township a car slid off of I-75 near Adams Road , ending up in the median facing traffic. A local police officer was on the job, stopping to assist the driver.
But then another driver lost control and slammed into the officer’s police car before swinging around and striking the first car. The officer was almost crushed between the two vehicles before being hit and thrown into the ditch. The whole incident was caught on the officer’s dashboard camera.
Luckily, the officer survived. He was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Now he is recovering at home.
In the last decade, 434 police officers have been killed in automobile accidents. Another 136 died when they were struck by a vehicle. That’s why Michigan has the Emergency Vehicle Caution Law (also known as the Move Over Law).
Here’s how it works: if you come upon an emergency vehicle that is stopped and has its lights flashing (including police, fire, ambulance, rescue, tow trucks, and road service vehicles), you are required to move over into a neighboring lane if possible. If traffic, weather, or road conditions keep you from moving over, slow down and give the emergency vehicle as much space as possible. This includes crossing over into the opposing lane on a two lane road, if it is safe to do so.
If you don’t give emergency responders space it could hurt your record and your license. Violating Michigan’s Move Over Law is a criminal misdemeanor that will add four points to your license – more than speeding or careless driving.
The penalty is even more severe if, like the driver in Bloomfield Township that lost control on the snowy roads, the failure to move over causes the injury or death of an emergency responder. That driver could face up to 15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine, as well as a potential Third Party auto accident lawsuit to compensate the officer for his pain, suffering, and other injuries.
Snowy roads can make safe driving a challenge and can put drivers and emergency responders at risk. If road conditions are bad, take your time and give police officers and rescue vehicles extra space to protect yourself and them from serious consequences.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team represent injured parties in both First Party and Third Party accident claims. If you know someone who was in a crash during the recent snowy conditions, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation today.