Crash Responder Safety Week barely got started before a Sedalia woman plowed into a Pettis County Sherriff's SUV while he was helping clear a crash scene on Highway 50.

Yesterday's crash is the latest example of the risk our first responders take while trying to keep us safe on streets and highways.

The main thing we can do to help keep first responders safe while working our streets and highways is obeying Missouri's Move Over law. MoDOT says, "Missouri’s Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes, if safe to do so, when approaching MoDOT vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, and any other emergency vehicle with lights flashing. If drivers can’t change lanes safely, they must slow down as they pass the emergency vehicles."

The law applies to police, fire and emergency vehicles, MoDOT vehicles, and even tow trucks with their lights flashing.

Other ways you can keep yourself, fellow motorists, and first responders safe are by doing the following. This is according to The Missouri Coalition for Highway Safety:

  • Buckle Up - 240 lives would be saved each year if all drivers and passengers buckled up. 60 motorcycle drivers and passengers would be saved by wearing a helmet.
  • Distracted Driving - Distracted driving is defined as anything that pulls the attention of the driver away from driving. Cell phone-related crashes are one of the fastest-growing types of crashes in Missouri. And nine out of ten people engage in some kind of cell phone activity. Over half of all distracted driving deaths in the state claimed the life of another person.
  • Slow down - Almost 40% of traffic crashes in Missouri involve excessive speed or aggression. This is the most common cause of Missouri crashes.
  • Impaired Driving - Driving under the influence of drugs and or alcohol is never OK.

It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots. Fast driving, driving while distracted, and or while under the influence are all factors that can put first responders at risk when they're doing their jobs on our roads. And in my opinion, it seems like yesterday's crash on Highway 50 was certainly caused by distracted driving. Randy Kirby reports:

A westbound vehicle driven by a 41-year old female from Sedalia was approaching at highway speeds. Realizing the driver was not stopping nor did she see the emergency vehicle, Deputy Hammonds was forced to quickly run into the median to avoid being struck by the motorist.

In this case, the driver had to be life-flighted to the hospital. Luckily the deputy managed to see the distracted driver and get out of the way. Sadly, some of our first responders aren't that blessed.

So put down the cell phone. Maybe eat that gas station hot dog before leaving the gas station. Pay attention, and don't drive too fast. The lives you save may include yours.

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