CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM recorded video from the air and the ground on one of the area’s busiest highways for an exclusive look at the danger to safety forces when drivers don’t slow down or move over passing emergency scenes.
The hazard now in the spotlight after the death last weekend of Mentor Police officer Mathew Mazany. He died after getting hit on the side of the road by a hit and run driver.
Ohio has a “Move Over” law requiring drivers to move over one lane, or at least slow down, when passing police, firefighters, ambulance crews and other vehicles with flashing lights along the side of the highway. But many drivers ignore the law.
SKYFOX spent some time Tuesday watching drivers as the Ohio State Highway Patrol worked along I-480. Our cameras saw the Patrol out with a tractor-trailer and a tow-truck. We saw some drivers slow down and pull over. But others stayed in the lane right next to where the flashing lights were even when there was room to move over.
Rich Wolf found himself pulled over. The I TEAM asked him if he slowed down. He answered, "Apparently not. Like I told the officer, I usually do pull over, but this time I guess I wasn't thinking.”
Sgt. Christopher Brock said, "I checked his speed at 70 miles per hour. He was the only vehicle approaching. There was no other vehicles beside him."
Brock also stopped another driver for not moving over.
Meantime, some drivers even barrel right through a scene. A few nights ago, on the Shoreway, a wrong-way driver caused a deadly crash. Cuyahoga County sheriff`s deputies say a man drove past the flares and emergency vehicles. Deputies then scrambled to stop that driver, gave him a ticket, and towed his car.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says troopers have written more than 14,000 tickets in 4 years for violating the “Move Over” law. The number could be higher except, often, there is not an officer or trooper free at an emergency scene to chase down someone ignoring that law.
Another example of the danger along the highways, the Ohio Department of Transportation says it has recorded 150 crashes a year in recent years with traffic hitting work crews.
Punishment for the tickets can vary. In Cleveland, a driver could end up paying nearly three hundred dollars in fines and court costs.
Out on 480, the Patrol issued warnings instead of tickets. The “Move Over” law isn’t new. But clearly, officers are still spreading the message even if they do it one driver at a time.