Emergency workers need room to work safely

Emergency workers need room to work safely

LAWTON, Okla._An OHP trooper was nearly hit by an oncoming driver while working an accident Thursday night.

A field test revealed that the driver had a blood alcohol content level of 0.15, which is nearly double the legal limit. The driver was later arrested.

Trooper Nick Vinson says nearly being hit is an everyday occurrence. Normally, highway troopers are only given about three or four feet between the stopped car and high-flying traffic.

A few months ago in Tillman County, a trooper's car was hit during a routine stop, resulting in the trooper being airlifted to the hospital. Vinson says highway patrolman know just how dangerous their job can be.

"I've been talking to a person on the side of the road and somebody comes along that fog line right next to you. You feel the air come right off that car. It's a pretty eerie feeling," said Trooper Vinson.

Oklahoma law states whenever there is a stationary emergency vehicle with lights displayed, drivers must go into non-adjacent lane. If that isn't possible, OHP requests people slow down to the minimum speed limit, which is usually around 40 miles per hour.

Vinson says he knows that sometimes drivers will not follow these safety guidelines.

"Throughout the academy, it's drilled into our head that we need to watch traffic. You are constantly watching your back making sure no one is coming up behind you," said Trooper Vinson.

OHP troopers go through specific trainings on safety, so they know what to do when cars go zooming by on the highway. The best advice they have for you if you are stuck on the shoulder, stay in the car as much as possible and call 911.

Troopers say this doesn't only apply to the drivers involved. A bigger issue can arise when loved ones are rushing to the scene, and not being careful.

"It's a common issue for a crash scene, mom, dad, girlfriend, whoever, will pull up and run across the highway. We've had family members been run over before because they were more concerned with their family members than they were watching traffic," said Trooper Vinson.

Vinson says if you need to get out of the car for something minor, like fixing a flat, just make sure you are as close to the car as possible, and to always keep your eye on the line of traffic.