Tragic I-75 accident is the motivation for “Move Over – Slow Down – Save A Life” month

FHP, chelsea richard, ocala post, ocala, marion county
Photo outside the church where the service for Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chelsea Richard was held on May 8, 2014. [Photo by Richard H. Stewart]
Florida – As National Police Week starts today, law enforcement officers across the nation remember and honor our fallen heroes – those officers who in the service of their communities have given the ultimate sacrifice are remembered.

As Florida mourns the loss of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chelsea Richard, who lost her life along with two others barely a week ago in a deadly traffic crash on Interstate 75 in Ocala, Florida, the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Florida Sheriff’s Association are designating June 2014 as “Move Over – Slow Down – Save a Life” month.

The safety of the public and Florida’s law enforcement officers traveling and working our highways, roads, streets and Interstates is paramount, this month and every month” said James W. Preston, President of the Florida State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police.

“The sheriffs realize the dangers law enforcement officers face every time they pull over a vehicle and they agree everyone has a civic duty to reduce this danger by complying with our traffic laws,” said Steve Casey, Executive Director, Florida Sheriffs Association. “In this regard, the sheriffs are proud to partner with the other state law enforcement agencies and associations to bring attention to this critical public safety issue via this campaign.”

All too often, our law enforcement officers are in grave danger when they are working Florida’s roadways, and we support every effort to better educate the public about the Move Over law,” said Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

Law enforcement officers who are working on Florida’s roadways face great danger from distracted drivers. To better protect Florida’s law enforcement officers, the statewide law enforcement organizations call upon all law enforcement officers in the state to actively educate the public and enforce the Move Over law throughout the state. Florida’s Move Over law, FS. 316.126, requires drivers to:

  • On a two-lane roadway, slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit;
  • On a two-lane roadway, slow to five miles per hour if the speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less; and
  • On an interstate or roadway with multiple lanes of travel in the same direction, you must vacate the lane closest to any emergency or law enforcement vehicle parked along the roadway as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are not able to safely move over, slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer.
I-75 Accident in Ocala/Marion County
Chelsea Richard’s patrol car that was hit during the accident.

As the summer travel season gets fully underway, please remember to slow down and move over for our public safety personnel working along our roadways. This simple act will save many lives. Thank you and be safe,” said President John Rivera, Florida PBA.

The Fraternal Order of Police and its partners calls upon all of Florida’s active law enforcement officers to engage in a concentrated effort to increase public awareness and enforce the “Move Over” law. “When it comes to the safety of law enforcement, it doesn’t matter what badge we wear. We are in this together,” said Javier Ortiz, President, Miami FOP Lodge 20.

Failing to move over is a deadly choice, not only for you, but for those of us who are out protecting you,” said Colonel David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “We lost a hero on May 3rd, Trooper Chelsea Richard and her death was preventable. People, be responsible, move over and slow down.”

The May 3, 2014 accident has affected many lives, not just those that were killed. The ripple effect that the sudden and tragic deaths of Trooper Chelsea Richard, Mr. John Duggan and Mr. Robert Phillips has left behind is incomprehensible. Lives were lost, and the lives of the family and friends left behind, will be forever changed.

Troopers said it is simple, when you see flashing lights, move over, and if you can’t move over you are required by law to reduce your speed by 20 mph below the posted speed limit, period.

There are large signs posted along I-75 that clearly inform drivers of the “Move Over” law. Troopers said ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law;especially when it could cost someone their life. The law will be enforced and drivers will be ticketed.

The investigation into the May 3, 2014 accident that claimed the lives of three (3) innocent people is still ongoing.

“This accident investigation is very complicated and the homicide portion of the investigation will take time,” said Sergeant Tracy Hisler-Pace, Public Affairs Officer for the Florida Highway Patrol. “This is a very tragic situation for everyone involved and FHP thanks everyone for their patience during this trying time.”

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