First responder roadside safety worries - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

First responder roadside safety worries

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Shelbina Firefighters wear safety vests while working on Highway 36. Shelbina Firefighters wear safety vests while working on Highway 36.
A semi-truck sprays water up driving over a flooded road. A semi-truck sprays water up driving over a flooded road.
Missouri State Highway Patrol car lights on while on the shoulder of Highway 36. Missouri State Highway Patrol car lights on while on the shoulder of Highway 36.
Sign indicating crews working on a scene. Sign indicating crews working on a scene.
A semi-truck drivers over a flooded road. A semi-truck drivers over a flooded road.
SHELBY COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) -

First responders are warning residents about the importance of slowing down when you pass emergency crews on the side of the road.

While responding to emergencies during Wednesday night's storms, Shelbina firefighters say speeding drivers had them concerned for their own safety.
 
"It's scary," Assistant Fire Chief Allan Wilt said. "Since the highway's went to four lanes, traffic's increasing. Seems like every year we're getting more and more traffic."

A 30-year veteran of the department, Wilt knows how easy it is for drivers to lose control. That one mistake can have a lasting, devastating impact.

"If you are not slowing down you can hit somebody you know and hurt or kill a fireman," Wilt explained. "They can't go home to their families."

It's also against the law, Missouri requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down if you can't move over for any emergency vehicle on the shoulder with the emergency lights on.

"Once you are in law enforcement or emergency services for very long, it's not long before you know a friend or a coworker who's vehicle was struck or unfortunately if one of them is struck," Sgt. Eric Brown with Missouri State Highway Patrol said. 

A Michigan fire chief died while at a roadside emergency Wednesday night after a driver lost control, striking the chief.

"He had a family probably." Wilt added. "You've got family and you're guys have families."

Troopers blame these incidents on driver inattention.

"Driving's a very important job and you need to pay attention at all times no matter what they conditions are," Brown explained.

Wilt hopes drivers will think twice the next time they see the emergency lights, for everyone's safety

"It takes away from us when we have to constantly watch for the speeding traffic and worry about our safety," Wilt said.

In Missouri, if drivers don't move over or are caught speeding by emergency cars, you are subject to a fine. If you hit someone, you could be charged with a crime anywhere from assault to a manslaughter charge.

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