Concerns raised over crashes involving emergency vehicles in Davidson County

North Carolina

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WHGP) — More than half the calls the Linwood Volunteer Fire Department gets are for vehicle crashes along Interstate 85. Firefighters say responding to those calls is like taking your life into your own hands.

“Every time we pull out of here, hopefully, we’re coming home,” Chief Terry Leonard said.

After 30 years as chief of the department, the smoke and flames don’t scare him, the interstate does.

“When you get out on the interstate it is hard to determine what is going through people’s heads,” Leonard said.

On Nov. 27, Leonard was sitting in an SUV on the side of I-85, assisting in a wreck call when someone slammed into him.

The crash totaled the car.

A similar situation happened a year earlier to one of their rescue trucks, doing over $100,000 in damage.

“We’re seeing more and more instances especially on interstates, people just do not slow down. North Carolina has a move over law, people don’t pay attention to that,” said Tim Bradley, with the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association.

Every year fire vehicles are involved in tens of thousands of crashes across the country.

“People are in too big of a hurry, they’re on their cellphones, they ain’t paying attention,” Leonard said.

Fire officials say the “Move Over” law is a great effort, but difficult to enforce.

Firefighters are now trained to park larger vehicles towards the back of a scene for added protection from oncoming traffic.

Advocates believe a set of blue lights on those trucks could make all the difference.

“When you’re riding down the street and you see an ambulance or a fire truck on the side of the road you don’t see any brake lights, if you see a blue light on the side of the road, you see brake lights,” Bradley said.

A bill currently sitting in North Carolina’s senate rules committee would allow fire trucks to install a blue light to be used when they’re in park responding to crashes.

It’s a move advocates say could save lives.

Sen. Steve Jarvis tells FOX8 he plans to bring the bill back into the conversation when the General Assembly is in short session.

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