EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Traffic was backed up on I-91 North in Easthampton Wednesday morning.
MassDOT traffic cameras showed traffic moving only through one lane near mile marker 21 on I-91 Wednesday morning. Several State Police cruisers, a tow truck, and a vehicle could be seen in the right and breakdown lanes.
According to State Police, around 10:15 a.m. a vehicle struck a State Police cruiser that was stationary in the breakdown lane while assigned to a traffic detail. The driver of the vehicle was minorly injured and the trooper was not injured.
The lanes have since been reopened. State Police said this crash serves as a reminder of the importance of the Move Over Law when approaching an emergency vehicle because it could save lives.
While no one was hurt, a reminder that this type of incident could have a worse outcome. “These types of crashes are a leading cause of fatalities for law enforcement, first responders, and tow drivers,” said Mark Schieldrop of AAA Northeast. Massachusett’s ‘Move Over’ Law is now being stressed to drivers.
According to AAA, about 70% of Americans are unaware of Move-Over Laws despite being passed in all 50 states. Failure to slow down and move over into the next lane causes the deaths of about 23 first responders and roadside crew workers each year, and hundreds more are injured. Local towing companies, see these close calls way too often.
When you are working in that breakdown lane, and on that white line, people just don’t respect it, they don’t move over and you feel unsafe, said Stephen Gonneville General Manager, Interstate Towing of Chicopee.
Gonneville adds they do everything they can to get the attention of on-coming vehicles, from warning signs to bright flashing lights. But he says at the end of the day, his crews need to stay cautious, and drivers need to pay attention.
“Please respect the law, slow down, and move over,” expressed Gonneville. AAA Northeast says there are laws pending right now to expand the ‘move over’ law to apply to all vehicles in the breakdown lane.