Adrian Garcia: "The light bars that you see on a police carÎ¾on the side of the road is an indication to move over, or slow down. It's not an indication to go faster and get closer."
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says a collaborative effort by area law enforcement is now underway to remind motorists of the law that serves as protection.
"This is essentially an effort to keep our peace officers safe. It's an effort to keep our traffic violators safe as they are being encountered by area law enforcement."
Under Texas law, drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle using visual signals like emergency lights, are required to either vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, if a lane is available, or to slow down to a speed not to exceed 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. Lt Coleman is with the Sheriff's Dept. He says the time an officer spends outside his vehicle after making a traffic stop is critical.
"The hazard of being on that roadway, the speed in which the vehicles are moving. You really don't have a great deal of time as the officer when you are trying to pay attention to what's going on in the vehicle that you stopped itself. You really don't have a great deal of time to react to a driver who's just not paying attention."
Sheriff Garcia says a violation is a Class-C misdemeanor.
"The initial violation could be as simple as a Class-C citation, but if there are other mitigating factors, like injuries that become involved, then there can be an escalation on the violations involved. You could get yourself in serious, serious trouble, beyond being regretful of the bodily harm that you may cause when such a tragedy occurs."
Metro Police Sgt. Victor Miles says it's even more of a danger for officers riding motorcycles.
"You have somebody go past you at about 50, 60 miles an hour on a motorcycle, you can just about feel everything in the car shake. It's not a healthy feeling at all, so I really hope that people will take heed to the warnings that we're asking and move over or slow down."
According to FBI statistics, in 2007, 83 law enforcement officers died as the result of accidents that occurred in the line of duty.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.