I had a meeting this week with a police officer client that I represent. The facts of his collision are horrific. He was working traffic control duty on the Northwest Freeway during a highway closure. While parked in his vehicle, with full emergency lights flashing, he was struck from behind at a high rate of speed by a motorist. The complete back end of his vehicle was obliterated. (That’s his actual vehicle below.) Although severely injured, luckily, my client survived. When I learned about the facts of this collision, I was furious! His reaction, on the other hand, will amaze you..
We were meeting in my conference room to provide a statement to one of the insurance companies involved. Before the statement, we started talking about the dangers of his job and how so many police and emergency personnel are injured on the freeway. I told him, every time I work on his file, my blood starts to boil in thinking about the carelessness of the Defendant. What he said next next shocked me: “I feel bad for the guy…” My client told me that it was clear that the Defendant didn’t intend to strike him, and must be feeling terrible about what happened. Don’t get me wrong, my client is upset about his collision, especially when in pain and trying to recover from his serious injuries. “If only that guy had just paid attention and moved over and out of the way…” My client’s attitude amazed me. The epitome of a public servant, even while still in pain and severely injured, his concern for how the Defendant must have felt just blew me away. The facts of this collision reminded me about the Texas “Move Over” Law and I promised my client I would blog about it this week.
When you see a police car, or any emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, it is not just common sense and courtesy to move over – it’s the law. Texas Transportation Code 545.157 mandates that drivers either vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction, or, slow down 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. I have recently written another article about the dangers of rear end collisions and the amazing statistics for injury accidents in Texas. The fact that so many of these collisions involve high speed impacts with police and emergency personnel makes my blood boil – I hope you feel the same way. We all have places to go, and it seems like we are always in a hurry. What we forget, sometimes, is that our desire to get where we are going may one day result in the serious injury or death of those whose job it is to keep us safe. Could you live with yourself if you found yourself in this situation? I know I couldn’t. We all must keep an eye out for flashing lights and warning cones on the road. Remember, you are required to move over if you can, or slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit. Yes, traffic slow downs are annoying. Yes, you want to get moving. Remember though, when you do your duty and move over or slow down, you are not just following the law – you may be saving lives.
I can’t write an article about this subject without bringing up the subject of distracted driving. Those of you who follow my blogs and have read articles such as this one are familiar with my ongoing battle against texting and driving, and other forms of distracted driving. You can’t avoid what you don’t see, and if you don’t put down that cell phone you may not see the policeman, fireman, or EMS worker on the road until it is too late. Remember, #ItCanWait, so keep your eyes on the road and follow the law. Put yourself in the shoes of the Defendant in my case. Is it really worth getting there a little sooner or making that one quick text to end up responsible for something like this?
Stewart J. Guss is a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer representing victims of auto accidents in Houston, Cypress, Spring,Tomball, The Woodlands, Katy and southeast Texas for 20 years. If you have been injured in a car wreck, call him today at 800-898-4877 for a free consultation. The phone call is free, and remember, you will pay him nothing unless he wins your case.