In response to the recent deaths of emergency workers along the state's highways, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has unleashed a new plan to re-educate drivers. Keith Turner takes a closer look at the Patrol's new campaign.
Throughout the month of April, the Missouri State Highway Patrol will conduct Operation Move Over. Troopers will continue to enforce all traffic laws, but will focus on drivers who fail to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles.
Sgt. Dan Bracker explains how Operation Move Over works, "We usually have two to three officers working in unison together out on the roadway and they don't make up car stops, they stop a violator for legitimate violations and another officer will pull up behind the officer. When they witness or see a visual that a passing motorist does not slow down or move over then they will initiate a traffic stop on that and they'll pretty much just piggy back off of that."
During this aggressive campaign, Bracker says patrol officers will also be watching closely from the skies above, "We'll have the aircraft in the air during these special operations and what he can do, he'll just witness these traffic violations occurring and he'll radio down to the officers that we can make a stop at that point."
Drivers who are pulled over for failing to yield to emergency vehicles could receive a warning or face misdemeanor charges, but Sgt. Bracker warns it's about much more than just handing out tickets. "We want to make it clear to the public, this is not about the number of tickets or even the number of warnings that we write to people. It's the re-education and we want to constantly remind people that it is a law to move over and that's what this is about, re-educating and deterring accidents from happening on the roadway."
Operation Move Over is scheduled to run through the rest of April and will operate in the eighteen county Troop D area on all major roadways. Bracker says the patrol isn't asking people to stop in the roadway, that would only cause more accidents.
"We just want people to take your foot off the gas, move to the center lane away from that officer, and give us the peace of mind to do our job and give us just a little bit more room so we can go home to our families at night, that's all we ask."
For KSMU News, Keith Turner reporting.