More than 17,000 drivers have been ticketed for not moving over in Maryland – the violations are into thousands already for the year.
And the number of those hit and even killed on highways across the state are also growing.
Getting there first has always been Kerri Williams. Helping others is who she is, how she’s made a living, and is what led her to her love.
“It’s the little things: scratching my head, hand on the hip at night, doing this together. We did everything together from working on our house, towing. We used to ride motorcycle’s together. We restored a ’65 [Ford] Mustang together. It’s the little things,” Kerri said, remembering her late husband Brian.
They were small gestures that made Kerri’s love for her husband, Brian, so big.
They spent almost a quarter of a century together. She says it would’ve been more if their love wasn’t cut short by the same passion that fueled both her and her husband.
“When he was on the highway, he loaded, strapped it down, and rolled because people don’t move over, you know, and he was always looking behind him to see if there’s something coming,” Kerri said.
The two worked at the fire department in Perryville, she a dispatcher and he a volunteer lieutenant.
They paid the bills through Brian’s work as a tow truck operator. It’s what he was doing when he was hit and killed this summer along I-95 – because a driver didn’t move over.
PATROLLING ROADS AND GETTING DRIVERS TO MOVE OVER
“If I’m finishing up on a stop. It’s possible for me to, myself, go after them and if I’m not able to, I can radio ahead to someone if someone is in the vicinity,” Maryland State Trooper Rodney Byrd said.
Byrd’s eyes stay on these roads – never glancing away. It’s alertness and awareness on drivers, their safety, and his own.
He’s patrolled highways across the state for 13 years.
Too many times, he says, stories like Brian’s and even other troopers are the headlines.
“We try to get the information to the citizens as much as possible. We have pamphlets that we hand out, these move over pamphlets. So when I make a stop, I normally tear one off and give it to the customers. So if they’ve not heard of it or not seen on it on the news or some commercial, they can get familiar with it,” Byrd said.
But it keeps happening according to numbers from state police – drivers getting too close and driving too fast near emergency personnel.
Since the ‘Move Over’ law’s inception in 2010, thousands have been cited for violating – hitting a peak of more than 5400 in 2014.
THE REPERCUSSIONS OF VIOLATING THE ‘MOVE OVER’ LAW
“Hazards were on. Reflective gear was on his shirt. His gloves were even reflective. There was no reason why he shouldn't have been seen,” Todd Collette, Brian’s co-worker at the tow company, said.
They’re safety measures those closest to Brian say should’ve been enough to save his life – enough to bring him home one more night.
It’s now a call to action from those with loved ones who work along the highway to think twice and move over.
“I want them [drivers] to think is that my loved one? Are they coming home tonight? Because mine didn’t. My daughter’s father didn’t come home,” Kerri said fighting back tears.
Several groups are now advocating for stiffer penalties for those who violate the ‘Move Over’ law.
For now, state police are pushing to educate and then enforce to get drivers to pay attention, slow down, and move over.