DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - A year after the preventable death of a state trooper, Colorado drivers are still not moving over for emergency vehicles.
Patrol records obtained by news partner The Gazette show that rather than decreasing, citations for violators of that particular state law have nearly doubled in 2017 -- and with more than a month still to go.
CSP spokesperson Joshua Lewis was careful to point out that some of the increase could be attributed to heightened enforcement but told The Gazette the number was also a result of drivers ignoring the law.
In June, the "Move Over for Cody" measure was established to create stiffer penalties for those who neglect to move over a lane and yield to any stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks and public utility vehicles. Colorado's "Move Over" law was implemented in 2005 and carried a 10-day to 12-month jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine. The 2017 measure increased the jail time to 12-18 months and the fine to $5,000.
The measure is named for Trooper Cody Donahue, who died on Black Friday in 2016 after he was hit by a passing food truck. State Patrol says Donahue was investigating a crash 2 miles south of Castle Rock and was outside of his vehicle in a reflective vest, with his vehicle's emergency lights on. The driver of the food truck allegedly failed to move over and hit Donahue.
Lewis said at the time what happened to Donahue was the very reason State Patrol called collisions "crashes," not "accidents."
"Crashes, especially like this one can absolutely be avoided."
But records show Colorado drivers are not heeding that warning. Through Nov. 20, 2,269 drivers have been cited for violating the Move Over law, up from 1,221 in 2016 and 857 in 2015. The Gazette reports that 352 drivers were caught in the last three months since the Cody act went into effect.
A plea from Deputy Chief Steve Johnson with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office last year is sadly still relevant this year.
"When you see these troopers and you see those law enforcement officers that are out there just trying to do their job, please move over. Give them the room that they need because if not, this is what happens and it continues to happen on a regular basis."