VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Every minute of the day, first responders and roadside crews are working to make roads safer for drivers. Unfortunately, drivers often make their jobs more dangerous and sometimes deadly.
“I was hit years ago on the James River Bridge in a firetruck,” said VDOT Incident Manager Jim Gower.
Gower was lucky to walk away with no injuries.
Mark Walden, a Virginia state trooper, was not so lucky when he pulled over a speeder near Mt. Trashmore in 2008.
“Got the license and registration and told ’em why I stopped them for the speed and sat down in my vehicle and that was the last thing I remembered,” he said.
His cruiser was crushed and wedged beneath the truck he had stopped. “At the same time, my eye felt real funny and ended up having glass in that,” he said.
Trooper Walden then said he was hit a second time during a similar stop on I-264.
“I’m more worried about being hit than I am being shot,” he said.
When you see a responder vehicle with flashing lights you must slow down and Move Over, it’s the law in Virginia. But during a gathering of responders at AAA Tidewater on Monday, the general consensus is that most drivers do not abide by the law.
“Put your phone down, pay attention to what’s in front of you,” urged AAA tow truck driver Shawn Murphy.
Gower added: “We’re not quite sure if its a moth to the flame type of situation with lights on, but the public is just not giving enough space and being aware to what’s going on.”
Virginia Beach firefighter Cole Taylor wants drivers to know, “When we’re out there you really have to have your head on a swivel, look around.”
If you don’t, you could face up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, or worse. You or someone else could end up dead.
“And all … because you’re trying to get to a store or you’re trying to get to your house, or trying to get home, well I want to go home too,” Walden said.