Agencies throughout McLennan County stepped up efforts Friday to enforce the state’s Move Over/Slow Down law and remind motorists to give space to emergency vehicles and Texas Department of Transportation workers.

Local agencies stepped up traffic enforcement along Interstate 35 throughout the day between Lorena and Lacy Lakeview. During the stops for other traffic violations, additional police units watched for drivers violating the Move Over/Slow Down law. It requires motorists to leave a lane between them and vehicles stopped with overhead emergency lights flashing, or to slow down to 20 mph less than the posted speed limit. The law was expanded in 2013 to offer the same protection to TxDOT workers.

“We are also making public education posts on our social media sites, because this is really for the safety of emergency responders, workers and the public out on the interstate,” Lorena Police Chief Tom Dickson said.

Dickson helped coordinate the local enforcement efforts with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Woodway Department of Public Safety, Hewitt Police Department, Robinson Police Department, Waco Police Department, Lacy Lakeview Police Department and McLennan County constables. Officers focused on pulling drivers over and educating them about the requirement to yield to police and emergency vehicles on the side of roadways with their emergency lights activated.

The agencies stopped more than 200 cars from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Final numbers of Move Over/Slow Down warnings and tickets issued were not available Friday evening. During the effort, officers also issued tickets for other moving violations and invalid license charges and made drug arrests.

“We wanted to participate in this campaign to try to keep every driver and emergency responder safe,” Lacy Lakeview Police Chief John Truehitt said. “It can just take a matter of moments to turn a traffic stop into a tragic situation.”

TxDOT electronic highway signs alerted motorists of the enforcement efforts, and local authorities used social media posts to spread the enforcement campaign’s message.

“Recently, there have been two people killed in Bell County, one tow truck driver and one Texas Department of Public Safety trooper,” Dickson said. “Anything we can do to improve the safety of our officers, our responders, TxDOT partners, and fellow motorists, we will step up our efforts.”

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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