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Accident critically injures state trooper

I think many of us can agree that there are some careers that are dangerous, but being a highway patrol officer has to rank high as one of the most dangerous career choices. Last week a Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer was almost killed as a semi-truck driver slammed into the back of his patrol car as he was on a routine traffic stop.

The accident occurred when a semi-truck driver allegedly fell asleep while driving and crashed into the trooper's car, pushing it into the median, where it burst into flames. The officer was taken to the hospital where he is in critical condition.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, these types of accidents or near-misses happen too often. People who are driving aren't moving over when they see a patrol car on the side of the road, or are driving by too fast and lose control of their vehicle. Officers are trained to be aware of every traffic stop and their surroundings to try and avoid being hit.

Tennessee roadways have a history of being treacherous for law enforcement officers and examples of accidents include:

  • In 2000, a speeding truck crashed into the back of a police cruiser, the car flipped and burst into flames killing the officer.
  • Two officers were involved with close calls when an SUV swerved off the road and hit the police cruiser narrowly missing the officer. In a second incident, an officer had pulled over a tractor-trailer when a car veered off the road and hit the right side of the police car. Luckily the officer was outside the passenger door of the tractor-trailer.
  • A trooper was working on an accident scene when a vehicle struck him, tossing him into the air and into the lanes of traffic. The trooper was able to get up and run to safety.

Law enforcement officials want to remind drivers of the Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicles Law and why it exists. It is to protect troopers who are working accident scenes or who are pulling over drivers for traffic violations. The law states that a driver must change lanes if they can do so safely, or if they can't change lanes, to reduce their speed and slow down when they pass a trooper. If a driver fails to do this, it can lead to fines and even jail time for the driver.

Source: WBIR.com, "East Tennessee trooper crash shows danger of the job," Brittany Bailey, March 15, 2012

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