Officers enforcing “move over” law
In January, a Greenwood Village police officer was sitting inside his vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 25 when out of nowhere a motorist slammed into the rear of his patrol car, leaving it a pile of twisted metal.
The Colorado State Patrol released a video in March showing a trooper and several others nearly being hit by a passing sport utility vehicle that failed to obey the state’s “move over” law.
Then on Nov. 25, Trooper Cody Donahue, who was investigating a crash, was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer whose driver authorities say had space to change lanes and give the officer room. Instead, the truck clipped Donahue — a father of two young girls — and killed him.
“If you see emergency personnel on the side of the road, please slow down and move over,” Donahue’s family said in a statement released Thursday. “Two little girls are going to grow up without their Daddy and there’s just no good reason.”
In the wake of Donahue’s death, law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado have been re-emphasizing the state’s law mandating motorists give room to officers, tow truck drivers and highway workers. The State Patrol has issued more than 1,000 such tickets so far this year for disobeying the statute, a violation that carries with it a four-point penalty and a fine that differs depending on jurisdiction.
On Thursday, Greenwood Village police led a targeted, 12-hour enforcement effort with Denver police and the sheriff’s offices in Douglas and Arapahoe counties that resulted in 266 stops. More than 175 citations for failure to follow the move over law were issued, and 79 written warnings were handed out.
“Our officers along the I-25 corridor are only seeing about 30 to 40 percent of the cars move over,” said Cmdr. Eric Schmitt, who oversees the Greenwood Village Police Department’s traffic unit. “The rest are zipping right by us.”
The Colorado State Patrol has drastically increased the number of tickets it has written to motorists who fail to move over since 2012, when it wrote 548 citations for the violation. In 2014, the force wrote 1,470 citations for the charge and another 919 last year.