(WBIR, WSMV) The Tennessee Highway Patrol is campaigning statewide to keep troopers safer by asking drivers to move over if they see a traffic stop or accident on highways or interstates.
The recent push comes after a crash killed Metro Police Officer Michael Petrina, 25, in Davidson County last weekend. He was working an accident on I-65 when a trailer struck and killed him even though drivers had a two-mile notice. The 71-year-old driver told officials he couldn't move over in time to avoid Petrina when he rounded the corner. But authorities said he instead tried to drive in between the trooper's car and a TDOT truck in his large motor home. He sideswiped the TDOT truck, and a trailer attached to his motor home hit Petrina, pinning him underneath. Petrina died on the scene, reported WSMV.
Traffic-related fatalities involving law enforcement are up 33 percent compared to last year, according to THP. WSMV reported that while Saturday's incident remains under investigation, officials would like to see stiffer punishments and bigger fines for drivers who break the move-over law.
"It's an epidemic. It seems like you hate to use that word, but we just lost a colleague," THP Sgt. Bill Miller told WSMV.
Currently, drivers caught breaking the move-over law once must pay a $100. On a second offense, it's a $500 fine. But the likelihood of getting caught is slim because the move-over law is rarely enforced.
Some lawmakers said they're now considering giving the law more teeth, and the change could come as soon as next legislative session.