Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reminder to Motorists: As You Travel This Holiday Season, Pay Special Attention to Law Enforcement Officers Patrolling Our Roadways

/PRNewswire/ -- On the day before Thanksgiving 2008, Deputy Nick Pham of the Monroe County (FL) Sheriff's Office was on patrol on U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys when his police cruiser collided with a semi-tractor trailer. A four-year veteran of Florida law enforcement in Florida, the 43-year-old husband and father died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Deputy Sheriff Pham was one of six law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty on the nation's roadways last holiday season -- the period between the Thanksgiving holiday and New Year's. That can be a particularly dangerous time for law enforcement, as millions of Americans take to the roads and officers step up their safety patrols. In all of 2008, 71 law enforcement officers nationally died in traffic-related incidents -- the leading cause of officer fatalities for the 11th consecutive year.

To help prevent officer deaths and injuries this holiday season, the "Drive Safely" campaign of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) is again reminding motorists to pay special attention to officers on the roads and to follow other common-sense traffic safety measures.

"Again this year, our dedicated law enforcement officers will be called on to give up time with their own families so the rest of us can travel in safety to spend the holidays with our loved ones. Every time we get behind the wheel -- and especially during the holidays -- we owe these brave men and women our full attention and consideration," said NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd.

"In addition to doing the obvious things -- not speeding or driving drunk -- drivers need to be especially mindful of officers who will be out enforcing traffic laws. If you see a police cruiser stopped by the side of the road, please slow down, move over and allow the officers to do their jobs safely and effectively," Mr. Floyd added.

The Memorial Fund's "Drive Safely" campaign promotes a number of actions motorists can take to protect law enforcement officers, other drivers and themselves:

-- Focus on driving. Avoid talking on your cell phone, eating, or hunting
for items in your vehicle while driving. When traveling 55 mph or
faster, a two-second distraction can be deadly. Adjust your speed for
road conditions, especially snow and ice.
-- Slow down and "move over." If you see an emergency vehicle stopped by
the side of the road, slow down and safely move over one lane if
possible. Forty-seven states now have "move over" laws, and violators
can be ticketed and fined.
-- Get out of the way of emergency vehicles. If an emergency vehicle has
its lights or siren activated, slow down, move to the right and stop
if possible. Once the vehicle passes, do not follow it too closely.
-- Stay off the shoulder. Driving on the shoulder of a roadway is not
only illegal -- it's dangerous. Emergency vehicles use the shoulder to
get to emergencies faster, where a few seconds can mean the difference
between life and death.
-- Watch officers' hands as they direct traffic. And listen for whistles
or other audible signals from officers on how to proceed.

For more information, safety tips and resources, visit the "Drive Safely" website at www.LawMemorial.org/DriveSafely.

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