JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 27-year-old Road Ranger was struck by a car Monday evening while picking up traffic cones from an emergency lane along Interstate 95, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Now, there’s a renewed push to get drivers to move over if they see emergency crews on the side of the road.
According to the Highway Patrol, the Road Ranger had been assisting with traffic control following a two-vehicle crash on southbound I-95 at University Boulevard. Troopers said he was picking up traffic cones from the emergency lane around 6:20 p.m. when a red sedan hit him.
The Highway Patrol said he suffered a laceration to the head and numerous cuts and was taken to a hospital. The Highway Patrol described his injuries as minor. News4Jax was told he’s expected to be OK and wants to return to the job.
Troopers said the 39-year-old driver of the sedan and the 16-year-old passenger were not injured.
News4Jax on Wednesday went on a ride-along with Road Ranger Supervisor Tina Dickerson to see firsthand the dangers that Road Rangers face when helping people whose cars have broken down on the side of the road.
Ride along with the road rangers today! Dangerous job while helping drivers on the interstate who are broken down. ⚠️ DRIVERS: Move Over a lane for stopped law enforcement & utility service vehicles. It’s the LAW! ⚠️ Story @ 5:30 on @news4jax. @myfdot_nefl @my_fdot pic.twitter.com/bMI99OC2Qq— Brittany Muller (@BrittMullerNews) April 14, 2021
While Road Rangers take safety precautions when they’re on the side of highways, they need drivers to stay alert and not text. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, distracted driving is always a challenge.
“People are attracted when they see lights. They start looking over and the steering wheel starts following,” Dickerson explained.
The first stop during the ride-along was responding to a broken down car on the side of the Interstate 10 ramp to I-95. Dickerson loaded a gallon of gas, always looking over her shoulder. Then the car needed a jump start. Dickerson cleared the shoulder within 30 minutes.
“The primary objective is for each one of us to get home every night. That’s the goal: get us home, get the motorists home and keep the highways clear and safe” Dickerson said.
She also helped a minivan driver with a flat. She said drivers should pay attention to message boards and move over when they see flashing lights.
“We’re on the shoulder, and a shoulder seems like a safe spot, but the reality is, when there’s a motorist going and a car stops short in front of them, their first reaction is to avoid that car in front of them, so they swerve to the shoulder, and that’s where we are,” Dickerson said.
According to the state Department of Transportation, in 2020, there were five crashes involving Road Rangers in Duval County. This year, there have been four.
Under the “Move Over” law, if you see an emergency vehicle, Road Ranger or utility truck on the side of the road, you must move away from them if you can. If you can’t, slow down 20 mph lower than the speed limit. So if the limit is 65, slow down to 45.
If you need Road Ranger assistance, call *347.