North Carolina authorities expect their roads to get significantly safer thanks to redoubled efforts for enforcing some of the state’s existing driving laws.
The first law in question prosecutes impaired drivers who have been consuming drugs. North Carolina funds training programs that certify officers to become experts at recognizing impaired drivers who are under the influence of substances other than alcohol. These officers are designated as Drug Recognition Experts or DREs, and there are over 180 of them throughout the state.
The second initiative hopes to educate people about “move over” laws. Any time a police officer or first responder has pulled someone over on the side of the road, other drivers are legally required to slow down and pull into the farthest possible lane.
These two efforts will hopefully see fewer accidents occurring in North Carolina.
Drug Recognition Experts are extensively trained in their abilities to identify people under the influence of marijuana, opiates, prescription drugs and other narcotics that interfere with the ability to drive safely. Officers must first complete 72 hours of course training, a certification course and other prerequisites before become full-fledged DRE officers.
While on duty, these officers use a 12-step test to assess a variety of medical, physiological, psychological and behavioral factors to determine whether or not a suspect has a high likelihood of being under the influence. Toxicology exams form the final step, allowing for lab confirmation of an officer’s suspicions.
According to law enforcement officials like DRE-trained Cpt. Todd Radabaugh, the program allows officers to catch offenders and increase their sentencing based on impairment. The end result is safer streets. “Officers are more aware of the problem and are better trained and able to detect and prosecute individuals who get behind the wheel if they are impaired by alcohol or any other substance,” Cpt. Radabaugh asserted to WNCN News.
Programs like DRE currently exist in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
NC State Troopers put their lives at risk when they pull people over on busy highways because too few drivers are aware of “move over” laws.
“In the last six months, we’ve had two troopers struck from behind,” North Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker professed to WFMY News. “We had two who were killed in the line of duty in the past eight to ten years.”
Officers will frequently get hit by other drivers not paying attention. People ignoring “move over” laws ride in the same lane an officer must cross to speak to a vehicle he or she has pulled over. Accidents at highway speeds often prove fatal or severely debilitating.
Under General Statute §20-157, drivers must “move over” or slow down any time there is law enforcement or a public service vehicle operating with indicator lights on within 12 feet of the roadside. Explaining the law more clearly, Sgt. Baker says: “If you’re on a four-lane highway, motorists are required to move to the innermost lane of that highway. If you’re on a two-lane, road, you’re supposed to come to either a complete stop, go left of center, or reduce your speed.”
Yet, officers and other public servants get struck all the time because too many people are ignorant of the law. Make sure that you obey the law to protect officers as well as yourself and other drivers on the road anytime you see someone pulled over.