Police: Public needs to be more aware of Maryland's 'Move Over' law

A scanner that sits on a shelf just in front of a Perryville Fire Department plaque in Donna Barr's home serves as a constant reminder.

"I think when I hear a call, yup, he'd be the first one out the door. Yes, indeed," Donna Barr said.

Her husband, a lifelong firefighter, kept the scanner turned up at all times. For the Barr family, the emergency calls that rang in were a sign of his dedication to helping those in need.

On Oct. 25, 2013, 64-year-old David Barr answered his last call. He came upon a crash and immediately pulled over to help. He signaled his flashers, set up flares, and stepped out to direct traffic away from the first responders on scene.

"To know that they didn't see him. It just... how could you not?" Barr said. "How could you not see? You saw the vehicle, and you didn't see him? He was right there. It's very upsetting."

A driver ran off the road slamming into Barr.

"It was, I guess I was in shock," Barr recalls. "I wasn't sure of the extent of his injuries. I knew that if he was going to a trauma center that it was probably bad. But he'd be OK. I just knew he'd be OK."

In October 2010, the 'Move Over' law went into effect in Maryland. The legislation requires all drivers to merge, or at least slow down, when they see emergency crews and flashing lights on the side of the road.

SEE RELATED: State Highway workers not included in 'Move Over' law

"It's not just police officers. You have fire department, you have, you know, emergency medical personnel. They are all out here on these highways and byways trying to do their jobs and the only thing their asking is that you give them a safe area around them," said Sgt. Marc Black, spokesperson for Maryland State Police.

The law caught a lot of attention last October, when 24-year-old State Trooper Jacqueline Kline was struck and critically injured on the side of Route 100.

"If you see somebody on the side of the road, you don't want to do this to anybody, it's not worth it. Nobody should wish this on their worst enemy," Kline said.

Around that same time, the number of drivers ticketed for breaking the move over law more than tripled in a single month. The months prior, the citations lingered around 300 per month. In October and November 2013, they jumped to nearly 1,300 each month.

"I think what we're trying to do, we're trying to educate the public through media as well as through actually stopping people and citing them and warning them for their violations," Black said.

In March 2014, 590 people were cited for not abiding by the move over law.

"My hope is that the public is becoming aware of the problem, they're becoming aware of the law, and they are obeying the law," said Black.

State Police could not talk specifically about the number of citations, but say it's a realization of both law enforcement and drivers becoming more aware of the law.

For families like the Barrs, it's a law that could save lives.

"If his death can save someone else, then it was worth it. And I'm sure he feels that way. He does," Donna Barr said.

In May, Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law requiring tow truck drivers to be included in the move over law. It goes into effect on October 1.