Section of I-65 Dedicated to Officer Killed While Directing Traffic Last Year
A section of Interstate 65 that includes the Old Hickory Boulevard interchange in Brentwood, Tennessee, has been named the “Officer Michael Petrina Memorial Interchange” in honor of the Metro police officer who was killed there last May.
A report by wkrn.com says the 25-year-old officer was diverting traffic away from an accident scene on May 10, 2014, when he was struck by a truck hauling a motorhome.
The dedication and renaming ceremony took place Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at the parking lot of 891 Old Hickory Boulevard near the new St. Thomas medical clinic.
According to wkrn’s initial report of the accident, the 71-year-old driver of the truck told police that he was unable to change lanes due to traffic near the area where the officer was standing. The driver was ultimately charged for his role in the accident and is scheduled to go on trial in January for charges of reckless homicide and failure to yield.
How Can Your Driving Habits Keep Officers and Others Safe on Roadways?
Police officers put their lives on the line for the safety of others on a daily basis. One of the most dangerous situations they encounter involves directing traffic in the aftermath of traffic accidents. Because they’re often standing in or near oncoming traffic, officers are at high risk of being struck by passing vehicles.
As a driver, you can do your part in reducing their risks by taking the following steps:
- Immediately reduce your speed if you see a police officer or emergency responder in the road.
Seeing a police officer or rescue worker in the road means you’re either about to encounter a road block or an accident scene. In either case, it’s vital that you begin to reduce your speed immediately. Driving slowly as you approach the officer or emergency responder gives you time to observe the situation and react accordingly to their directions.
- Change lanes if you see an officer or emergency responder on the shoulder of the road.
Tennessee’s Move Over Law means that drivers are required to change lanes when it’s safe to do so if they see an emergency vehicle on the shoulder of the road. It’s especially important to follow this law if you see an officer or emergency responder is out of his or her vehicle and standing on the shoulder of the road. By giving him or her plenty of space to assist at the scene of the accident, you can significantly reduce your risk of striking the officer or emergency responder.
- Never drive while distracted or intoxicated.
One of the biggest risks that police officers and emergency responders face while responding to an accident scene are distracted and intoxicated drivers. Anyone behind the wheel whose judgment, focus, and attention span are compromised due to distractions or the consumption of alcohol is far more likely to cause a serious accident than drivers who are focused on the road and sober.
- Don’t rubberneck when passing accident scenes.
It is human nature to be curious about what happened when passing the scene of an accident, by diverting your attention away from the road, you may miss seeing a police officer, state trooper, or emergency responder in the path of your vehicle. Always keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and be prepared to stop or slow down if a police officer is directing traffic to divert drivers away from the accident scene.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Brentwood car accident attorneys believe it’s important to always be aware of the fact that police officers and emergency responders are highly vulnerable when they’re standing near accident scenes. Whether they’re directing traffic, assisting victims, or working to clean up an accident scene, it’s vital that all drivers give them the space they need to do their jobs and to always slow down to a safe speed when approaching the areas where they’re working.