RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The accident that destroyed a state police cruiser Monday morning could have ended tragically. State police say it also could have been avoided.
"When it applies to law enforcement or EMS and fire, you're required by the statute in Virginia to slow down and or change lanes if you can safely do so," said Virginia State Police Sgt Thomas Molnar.
Drivers we spoke to say its common courtesy to get out of the way when flashing lights appear.
"Slow down and change lanes," said motorist Nick Russo.
"Just because it makes me nervous to go by them so close. You don't know if a door's going to fly open or what's going to happen, so I try to give them a little space," said Lynne Headley, motorist.
But not everyone knows it's a law in Virginia.
"No, I didn't. I thought you just did it out of safety, one of those "mommy" things," Lynne said.
"I know it's a law. I did it as a courtesy before it was a law, but I know it's a law," Nick said.
And it's a law that, if broken, carries stiff penalties, especially if a crash is involved.
"You could be subject to enforcement action which includes a year in jail and up to a $2500 fine or a suspension of your license for 1 or 2 years depending on the severity of the crash," Molnar said.
State police say it also saves lives, and adds a layer of safety to a potentially dangerous situation, like the one that happened Monday morning in Goochland County.
"If everyone would follow the law, it never would have happened," said Nick.
Police hope scenes like this will encourage people to follow the law, and move over. For more on Virginia's 'Move Over' law click here.