CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The North Carolina Move Over Law is pretty simple. If you see first responders on the side of the road, slow down and move one lane over. As simple as it sounds first responders are still being hit, and in some cases killed, by drivers. That’s one of the reasons North Carolina lawmakers have passed an expansion to the law which makes prison time possible.
A dash camera was rolling in August of 2005 in Cumberland County when a highway patrol officer was hit by a passing car. The incident helped increase the Move Over Law fine to $500.
In December of last year Lumberton Police Officer Jason Quick was hit and killed on I-95 while investigating a crash. This incident is forcing lawmakers to increase the penalty for hitting a first responder to include possible prison time.
"That's probably one of those most dangerous situations we respond to is any accident on the roads in Mecklenburg County, especially the interstate highways,” said MEDIC Operations Supervisor, Tim Marshburn.
MEDIC is all too familiar with the danger of drivers not moving over. On January 23, 2003 Paramedic Tim Hayes lost both of his legs and was nearly killed when a semi crashed into his ambulance on I-77 south.
"It changed my life forever. Of course you know the one thing I had to do was learn to walk again. The doctors gave me a 10% chance of ever walking and I proved them wrong,” said Hayes during a 2013 interview with FOX 46 Charlotte.
The crash also changed the way MEDIC operates on the road. They now take a defensive measure whenever they pull up to an incident on a highway.
"We position our ambulance in such a way that is safe on the highway, all the first responders do that, There is a certain protocol for that, so we train for how we position ambulances to keep us as safe as possible,” said Marshburn.
But much of the safety is still in the hands of drivers who should follow the Move Over Law.
"That is one reasons why this [the law] is so important to all first responders. Our lives are on the line whenever we respond to those accidents,” said Marshburn.
The driver in the 2003 incident that injured Paramedic Tim Hayes was fined $25.
The change that would present possible prison time for drivers who hit first responders could be signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper in the next few days.