MANAKIN-SABOT, Va. (WRIC) — Working alongside the road is dangerous for first responders and roadside workers. On Friday representatives from VDOT, Virginia State Police and a Move Over advocate discussed why it’s important to follow the law when you see people working on Virginia’s highways and interstates.

Virginia’s Move Over law states that upon approaching a stationary vehicle on the side of the road, drivers must change lanes to give the vehicle space — or if it is unsafe to do so, proceed through the area with caution.

Although was enacted as far back as 2002, authorities say first responders and other roadside workers are still getting hit.

In 2009, Sgt. Steve Sclafani was monitoring traffic overnight on Interstate 64. After speaking to a driver who was speeding, he walked back to his car when suddenly he was hit. 

“It was 1:30 a.m. and the next thing I knew I woke up in a helicopter unconscious,” recalls the Virginia State Police Sergeant. “I was flown to MCV. I had severe injuries to my back.”

Sclafani said he’s lucky to be alive and recommends drivers slow down, especially when they see people working alongside the road.

“When that traffic is going by you in the right lane at approximately 70 miles an hour, you definitely can feel it,” explained Sclafani. “You feel the shift in your vehicle and it is important for drivers to move over and slow down.”

Sclafani isn’t the only one to get hit. In 2018, Melanie Clark lost her husband Brad when the back of his fire truck was struck.  Clark was a Hanover County Fire and EMS Lieutenant who was killed while responding to an incident off of Interstate 295 during Tropical Storm Michael.

“Fortunately, he had a few seconds to alert his crew that a tractor-trailer was coming and save their lives, but he lost his in doing that,” says Clark. “If the driver would have moved over just one lane and not turned over, Brad and his crew would be safe.”

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute says sixty 65 workers were killed nationwide in 2021 due to roadside collisions.

VDOT recommends that drivers pay attention and drive carefully around road works and disabled vehicles. Most importantly, drivers are reminded to move over and give ample space.