Governor to motorists: Drive carefully
June 28, 2010
Five California Highway patrol officers have died in the line of duty during the last two months, including three who were hit and killed by motorists on freeway or highway shoulders. The back-to-back deaths of two officers on Sunday, including one in Paso Robles, is leaving officials stymied by what to do to improve highway safety. [Los Angeles Times]
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday said the deaths are a reminder of the need for motorists to be careful when they see CHP officers pulled over on freeways and highways.
“It has been a difficult time for our law enforcement family and the state of California, losing five of our highway patrol officers since May,” Schwarzenegger said. “Each has been a terrible loss for our state, and together they underscore what a dangerous job our CHP officers face every day. We can all help prevent tragedies and save lives by giving our officers space when they are making a traffic stop.”
CHP statistics indicate that two to four officers are killed in most years. The worst year was 1964 when eight officers died in the line of duty. In 2005, six CHP officers died over a five-month period.
Efforts have been made to increase the visibility of both CHP officers and their cars. The newly-enacted “Move Over” law requires California motorists to move out of the slow lane if they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.
Officer Justin McGrory died Sunday morning outside of Barstow after being hit by a car during a routine traffic stop. A second officer, Brett Oswald, was killed in Paso Robles Sunday night while dealing with an abandoned vehicle.
Traffic experts say the deaths are just the latest reminder of how dangerous the job of CHP officers is–particularly when they are on the side of a freeway with no barriers or protection against fast-moving cars.