WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - The Williamson County Sheriff's Office is hoping they can better educate drivers in order to protect first responders.
This follows the recent death of a DPS trooper in Temple whose vehicle was hit from behind during a traffic stop.
They are doing an operation dedicated to enforcing the state's Move Over/Slow Down law. The goal is to remind the public what to do when encountering an emergency vehicle that is stationary.
Sixty-three year old Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper died in the line of duty on November 9th in Temple. He was conducting a traffic stop on southbound I35 when his patrol car was struck from behind. Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody doesn't want to see that happen again.
"They really don't realize the consequences of one bad decision, not obeying this Move Over law. Law enforcement is paying the price, emergency vehicles, first responders, tow truck drivers, transportation drivers for the state, are paying the price for one mistake. They're dying and just recently we experienced that exact situation," said Sheriff Robert Chody, Williamson County Sheriff's Office.
In response, the Williamson County Sheriff's Office is doing an operation dedicated to enforcing the state's Move Over law. The law requires motorists to move out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle when possible or reduce their speed to 20 miles per hour below the posted limit. The driver must slow down if the road does not offer multiple lanes.
"We don't want to write you a ticket but, I also don't want to go over there and pick up one of my deputies who is seriously injured or even killed because those things are occurring and we take that serious," said Sheriff Chody.
You must also reduce your speed to 5 miles per hour if you're on a roadway with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. Sheriff Chody says even an accident at 25 miles can do great harm.
Just this past May the Sheriff's Office did a three day operation:
Day 1: 77 citations.
Day 2: 93 citations
Day 3: 70 citations
Total: 240 citations
Some violations included passing a stationary emergency vehicle and speeding.
"When you talk about 240 citations, in a three day period, that's a lot of tickets. Again, it demonstrates the lack of understanding of the law," said Sheriff Chody.
Sheriff Chody said ideally they would like to do this operation three to four times a year.