Ride-along highlights dangers of traffic stops

Local News

In just over a two-week span, there were four officer-involved crashes on the side of the road in Tennessee.

The recent incidents highlight the importance of the state’s Move Over Law.

On the shoulder of I-40 westbound in Lebanon, Sergeant Kenneth Hackett from the Tennessee Highway Patrol pulled a driver over for speeding.

But during his traffic stop, car after car continued to zoom by.

Lt. Charlie Caplinger said troopers face the daily risk.

“By not moving over, it puts our lives in jeopardy,” said Lt. Caplinger. 

Tennessee’s Move Over Law requires drivers to merge to the next lane or slow down when it comes to any passenger, service, or emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

“Anytime you make a traffic stop you know there’s always a risk,” said Lt. Caplinger. “Obviously it’s on our mind at all times. We try to keep eyes on the back of our head but it’s hard to do.”

Among the recent officer-involved crashes statewide was one in Arlington.

A trooper was injured and two TDOT contractors were killed after a truck driver drove into a construction zone.

“It does affect us every time something happens to one of us,” said Lt. Caplinger. “It brings awareness back to our minds.”

Lt. Caplinger said the problem is two-fold – one, a growing population.

“Sometimes they’re not aware of the move over law campaign. That’s why we’re constantly doing education,” said Lt. Caplinger. 

Number two, distracted drivers.

“If you see blue lights are flashing lights on the shoulder, and it’s a half a mile or mile ahead of you, start making plans to scoot over,” said Lt. Caplinger. “You just have to cost to concentrate on driving instead of everything else going on.”

A simple change in behavior that Lt. Caplinger said can save a life.

If you are caught violating the Move Over Law, you could be fined up to $500 or spend possibly up to 30 days in jail.

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