WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Texas State Troopers are doing what they can to get drivers to slow down or move over when someone is pulled over on the highway.
In early November a Texas State Trooper was killed after conducting a traffic stop on I-35 near Belton, Texas. Now the Highway Patrol is working to enforce what, they believe, is a very important law.
Trooper Dan Buesing has had many close calls on the job. Most of those happened when working a wreck or pulling over a vehicle.
"There have been a few times where I had to run in the ditch, jump on the hood of a car because someone didn't pay attention," Trooper Buesing said. "That's a big fear of law enforcement on the side of the road, especially if you're in the city or on the highway. Whether you're a fireman, E.M.S. worker, TxDOT worker. Those TxDOT guys are out on the highway in the lanes of traffic on a daily basis as well."
That's why a Texas law was created in 2003. It requires people to slow down at least 20 miles per hour below the speed limit or move into the next lane. But it hasn't stopped tragedy from happening.
In the U.S. there haven't been under 100 law enforcement deaths since 1944. Most have come from similar incidents.
This year D.P.S. is putting a concentrated effort into enforcing that law, beginning this weekend in Clay, Montague, and Archer counties. If you don't slow down, you will be ticketed.
Driver James Marquez said he slows down anytime he see's first responders on the road.
"Slow down," he said. "It hurts nothing to slow down, pay attention, and get off your phone. Be considerate."
John Leij blames distractions for some of the incidents.
"Too much talking on the phone, sending the messages," Leij said. "You hit somebody you hurt somebody!"
"It's just maybe 10 or 20 seconds out of your life to slow down and move over," Trooper Buesing said. "And you can get to your destination safely and that officer, TxDOT worker, wrecker driver can return home to their family safely as well."
D.P.S. will use the statistics gathered from this weekend to help enforce the law throughout the rest of the year.
Trooper Buesing said his message to everyone is to treat people on the side of the road like family. How you want them to be treated.