The South Dakota Highway Patrol, State Office of Highway Safety and local law enforcement agencies began a joint campaign today to ask motorists to "slow down and move over'' when they approach flashing yellow lights that indicate a crash scene or emergency vehicle on the highway.
Last year, motorists who failed to slow down and move over struck 13 Highway Patrol vehicles and injured several troopers. Those troopers were on duty, responding to crashes or other roadside emergencies when they or their vehicles were struck. In addition, motorists struck more than three dozen South Dakota Department of Transportation snowplows as they cleared roads during snowstorms last winter.
"More law enforcement officers and emergency responders are seriously injured or killed in car crashes than in any other line-of-duty threat they face,'' Col. Craig Price, superintendent of South Dakota Highway Patrol, said. "The law requires motorists to slow down and move over when they see those flashing yellow lights. Some motorists just aren't doing that, and it puts them, their passengers and the troopers and other responders at risk.''
The Highway Patrol joined with the Sioux Falls area law enforcement agencies for a news briefing to announce the start of the campaign, which includes billboards, posters and video public service announcements featuring troopers involved in crashes last winter. The "Slow Down and Move Over'' campaign carries the tag-line, "It's not just a courtesy. It's the law.''
Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel, Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead and Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Johnson joined Highway Patrol Capt. Kevin Joffer in the media briefing on the campaign in Sioux Falls.
"The safety of our officers and the public is paramount,'' Chief Barthel said. "We can't respond to other vehicle crashes when we are the victims of a crash ourselves. Please, slow down, for our sake and yours.''
Violation of the move-over law is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.