Bedford County Deputy Brian Ellis was investigating a single-vehicle accident Saturday outside of Bedford when another vehicle crashed into his parked patrol vehicle, according to reports.
Ellis was not inside the vehicle at the time and was not injured, but he had his emergency lights on.
The driver of the vehicle that struck the patrol vehicle sustained minor injuries and was charged with reckless driving. Her name was not released.
Although Ellis said he was fortunate not to be in the vehicle at the time, law enforcement officers are still killed and seriously injured every year by drivers who fail to move over.
“It’s such an easy thing to do to keep our law enforcement safe,” said Bedford County Sheriff Mike Miller. “Our deputies work in dangerous situations all the time, but drivers really increase that risk for them when they zoom by and ignore the flashing lights — and the law.”
The incident prompted a Bedford County Sheriff’s Office conference Tuesday.
“Every day, thousands of law enforcement officers take to the streets to help keep Americans safe and put their lives at risk to do so,” the sheriff’s office stated. “One of the most dangerous parts of an officer’s job is stepping out on the side of the road, whether it’s for a traffic stop, to assist a motorist, or to investigate a crash.”
Since 2017, there have been 188 law enforcement officers killed in traffic-related incidents. Between 2006 and 2017, on average, one law enforcement officer was killed during a traffic-related incident each week.
The sheriff’s office went on stated that in an effort to protect officers who protect citizens, every state has “Move Over” laws, requiring drivers to move over and/or slow down when approaching stopped emergency vehicles with emergency lights activated.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with local highway safety partners and law enforcement to help get the word out to every motorist: Move Over. It’s the Law.
The “Move Over” law is not new: Virginia enacted its law in 2002 and amended it in 2019 to strengthen the penalty for violating the law. However, law enforcement officers are still killed and seriously injured every year by drivers who fail to move over.
“Emergency personnel, tow operators and highway workers can only do so much to keep themselves safe when they pull over on the side of the road,” the sheriff’s office stated. “The rest of the responsibility falls on other motorists. So remember, next time you see those flashing red, blue and amber lights on the side of the road, Move Over. It’s the Law.”
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