SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - Move over -- it's a simple concept that can be the difference between life and death, but many people still aren't doing it.
Some of you may have seen pictures on our station's Facebook page of officers with their families, urging people to move over to help save lives.
Drivers not moving over for law enforcement, construction crews, or emergency workers cars, striking troopers, many of them getting hurt; some have even been killed.
Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Kris Chapman says he knows the feeling all too well. "I had a vehicle stopped on the 38.2 mile marker when I was struck in the rear by an impaired driver," he said.
During a routine traffic stop in 2008, Chapman's car was hit from behind. "The vehicle then bounced into the guardrail. It came to rest in the left-hand lane of the southbound traffic," he said.
Chapman says he suffered a broken back, ribs, and pelvis during the accident. He stayed in the hospital for several months and was not able to walk.
Eight months later, he was able to walk and return to work. Now he's urging people to 'move over'. "Any vehicle with red, blue, amber lights, the law requires traffic to move over and yield the right of way to that traffic. If they cannot move over, they must pass with caution," he explained.
We learned in Virginia, lawmakers are trying to increase the punishments for anyone who hits and kills anyone working on the road. "The House looked at it, and they asked to try and help. But they weren't ready to move it to a felony. So we sort of compromised and carried this bill over it," says Senator Phillip Puckett.
Virginia State Senator Phillip Puckett tells us the law would increase the punishment from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Trooper Chapman says he takes more precautions when working the interstate. "I normally do my traffic stops on the passenger side after the crash, just as far as the awareness for myself and constantly watching your mirrors," he said.
Chapman hopes no worker or family has to go through what he did and drivers will take the message seriously.
We learned in Virginia drivers who do not obey the law could face up to $250 in fines.
In Tennessee, drivers could face up to $500 in fines or up to 30 days in jail.
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