• Drivers creating dangerous conditions for emergency crews

    By: Lee Stoll

    Updated:

    Officers responding to dangerous situations are being put in danger by drivers getting in the way.

    On highways, it's the law that drivers must move over and give crews room. But on local and state roads, drivers are freezing up and failing to make room, costing crews crucial response time.

    We were with Everett police officer Shane Nelson as he responded to a report of an armed man in a crowded apartment building last month.

    Nelson was the first officer to reach the unit.

    "Police! Open the door," said Nelson as he pounded on the door with his gun drawn.

    Minutes earlier, Nelson was driving on busy downtown streets trying to reach the scene. Although his emergency lights were activated, a driver froze, forcing Nelson to weave around the car.

    "That person is just stopping," said Nelson.

    Luckily, no one at the apartment was hurt and the situation ended peacefully.

    Drivers who see emergency lights behind them are supposed to pull to the side and stop.

    "I'll get people that I'll turn on my lights and sirens and they'll drive 567 blocks and then finally pull into a spot," said Nelson.

    Washington state patrolmen face the same hazards at highway speed. A trooper's dash camera was on when he pulled over to respond to a crash on an icy State Road 16 last year. Within minutes, a car hit the trooper's vehicle. Two other cars also crashed.

    "This is our office, this is our work area," said Trooper Keith Leary.

    Washington's Move Over Law took effect two years ago. Highway drivers must pull over one lane from an emergency scene when they can or face a $190 ticket. In 2013, 430 drivers were fined and there were 23 roadside crashes.

    "Every time one of us is taken off the road or a firefighter is taken off the road, that impairs our ability to get traffic moving safely," said Leary.


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