RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Drivers who ignore Virginia’s Move Over law could soon face harsher punishment.
The proposed change follows the death of a Hanover firefighter, Lieutenant Brad Clark, who was killed after a tractor-trailer slammed into his fire truck.
By law, you’re supposed to move over a lane or at least slow down anytime you see firefighters or police parked on the interstate.
Many drivers ignored that mandate, so a Hanover delegate hopes to get their attention by upping the ante.
Lt. Clark died working an accident scene on Interstate 295 after a tractor-trailer crashed into the Hanover firefighter’s engine.
“It is now my life’s mission to bring education and awareness to the Move Over law,” Melanie Clark, Lt. Clark’s widow, said.
Melania Clark shared her painful story on Monday to support a bill that stiffens the punishment for drivers who fail to move over.
“Nothing can bring my beloved husband back to me and our girls, but what we can do moving forward is to make the commitment to bring about change and awareness to the epidemic of distracted driving and the failure to move over,” she said.
Under the proposed legislation, House Bill 1911, not moving over would be considered reckless driving. This is something that weighs heavily on the shoulders of other firefighters, including one who was seriously hurt in last October’s crash.
“Just take a minute, put yourself in our shoes. Y’all have families that you’re going home to and we all have families that we want to go home to,” said Jesse Smith, a Hanover firefighter.
Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover). who sponsored HB 1911, is also sponsoring a memorial license plate for Lt. Clark that would remind drivers to move over.
“The guys will whisper in my ear that Brad’s smiling from heaven and I do believe that,” M. Clark said.
It is crunch time for the memorial license plates. Roughly 450 orders are needed by Wednesday to make it happen.
If you’re interested, you can find the forms to fill out here.