ELIZABETHTOWN - In Essex County, incidents involving moving vehicles and officers on patrol hit close to home.
Now, a new law, which will be enacted on New Year's Day, is drawing praise from the county's head officer.
"Obviously this is something that has been a problem for us because one of our officers was killed during a situation that is now addressed with the Move Over Act," Richard Cutting, Essex County Sheriff, said.
In 2005, Deputy Sheriff Eric Peter Loiselle was killed alongside the Northway when he was struck after stopping a vehicle for a traffic matter.
Loiselle, along with State Trooper Robert Ambrose and Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Glenn M. Searles, were used by proponents of the bill to show why the act needed to be passed. The official name of the law is the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act.
"The act basically says that as you are approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped for whatever reason, you are required to slow down and move over," Cutting said. "The act states that drivers should use due care when they are going past an authorized emergency vehicle that is topped with its lights on."
Cutting said the main area of concern for deputies has always been along the Northway.
"As a rule, the Northway traffic is just tremendous," Cutting said. "The vehicles are traveling at a high rate of speed and they do not see that parked car as a problem. We owe it to those line officers to do everything that we can do to get the word out and keep them safe."
Cutting said motorists are now mandated to give stopped emergency vehicles one full lane of room on multi-lane highways, like the Northway.
"You need to move over one full lane," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of people feel that if the lane is not free for them, they can just keep going at the same rate of speed and not slow down to take advantage of an opening in the far lane."