Move over, Texas! Trooper struck by vehicle makes passionate plea

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It happens all too often on Houston roadways. An officer makes a routine traffic stop, and while the officer is outside of their cruiser, another driver speeds by - too close for comfort.

It happened to Texas Highway Patrol Corporal James Wright on September 16, 2015, when he pulled over to assist another trooper on a traffic stop.

"I stood on my running board and looked back towards traffic and saw a vehicle running towards me. I realized the vehicle wasn't going to move, and I was going to get hit," said Wright. "A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, and the one I remember most is, 'Don't get pinned.' As the vehicle struck my vehicle, all I was able to do was jump up."

Wright landed on the freeway behind his Department of Public Safety cruiser.

"I had an ankle sprain and bumps and bruises - very lucky," said Wright.

Accidents like Wright's aren't only dangerous, but they are also illegal. Texas' Move Over/Slow Down law requires drivers to yield to police, fire and emergency vehicles when their lights are flashing. Violators can be fined a hefty penalty.

"It's your responsibility as a TX driver to move over for any police officer, trooper, deputy, ambulance worker, fire truck, wrecker truck driver, or TxDOT worker that's actually on the side of the road with their emergency lights on," said TX DPS Sergeant, Stephen Woodard. "If you cannot vacate to the next lane, please slow down 20 miles below the speed limit."

In 2015, 11 state troopers were hit by vehicles that didn't slow down. This year, four troopers were hit.

"Since the inception of TxDOT in 1938, they've had 150 personnel killed on the roadways simply trying to do their job," said Woodard.

To see just how many vehicles move over, we had Woodward pull us over to demonstrate the danger.

"As you can see, this driver just passed us now well over the speed limit, and two more are coming," he said as we stood on the shoulder of State Highway 288.

Woodard estimates only 50 percent of Houstonians move over or slow down. He and Corporal Wright want to see more drivers following the law, because for them - its a matter of life and death.

"We're out there doing a job just like anybody else, and we all have families that we want to go home to," said Wright.

If you're caught not moving over or slowing down, you can be ticketed for up to $2,000 and hitting an emergency vehicle can lead to jail time.

All 50 states have some sort of move over law in place.
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