City leaders are asking Jacksonville drivers to obey Florida law and Move Over for first responder vehicles.
Mayor Donna Deegan said three Jacksonville Fire and Rescue vehicles and 25 Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office vehicles were struck by at-fault drivers just in July. That’s almost one a day for the month. “That’s crazy and so preventable,” Deegan said at a news conference Wednesday unveiling a new public service announcement: ”Move Over: It’s the Law.”
Deegan and other city leaders said former Florida Sen. Audrey Gibson spearheaded the effort during her time in office. Gibson said another goal of the campaign is to help JFRD meet or exceed response times and not be hindered by drivers not obeying state law.
“The biggest message I want the community to understand is, ‘What if it were you that that emergency vehicle was coming to help? What if it’s your house that’s on fire? What if you’re in the accident and lying on the side of the road?’” Gibson said. “This really is what this is all about.”
JFRD Chief Keith Powers explained that the state law has two important prongs: One is that drivers need to pull safely out of the way for approaching emergency vehicles and the other is that when drivers are passing a first responder stopped on the side of the road, they must move over out of the closest lane to the emergency vehicle or slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit or to 5 mph when the speed limit is 20 mph or less.
“Thankfully they’re OK,” Powers said. “But that’s what we’re trying to do is protect these first responders that are working in these dangerous areas.”
Powers said he’s had personal experience nearly being struck on the side of the road and is asking for the public’s help to spread the word and obey the law.
Sheriff T.K. Waters also recalled another incident when an evidence technician working a fatality crash was struck by a car and almost died from his injuries.
“It took him several years to get his way back to work,” Waters said.