HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Road safety advocates gathered off Pocahontas Parkway in Henrico County on Tuesday to draw attention to a new law that takes effect July 1 impacting all drivers in Virginia.
Currently, Virginia's Move Over law requires drivers on highways to move over (or slow down if moving over is not safe to do so) when approaching a first responder or roadside assistance crew with its emergency lights activated.
As of July 1, the law will apply to any person's vehicle with its hazards on (or other signage like flares or a road triangle).
"As soon as you're starting to approach something like that, you want to give that person on the side of the road, no matter who they are, as much space to be safe as possible," AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean said. "Between 2016 and 2020, 28 people were killed over that five-year period outside of a disabled vehicle here in the state of Virginia. Each and every year, between 30o-350 people are killed inside, around, or getting back into a disabled vehicle on the side of the roadway."
Joining Dean were representatives from Virginia State Police and family members of people who have died on the sides of Virginia's highways.
Angela Hurley was killed on July 19, 2022, when her car broke down on Interstate 95 in Hanover County.
She had pulled over onto the shoulder and was sitting in the car with her hazards on when another driver, who police said had been speeding and driving erratically beforehand, slammed her vehicle into the back of Hurley's car.
"It's awful. And awful isn't even a harsh enough word to describe how bad it is," Hurley's sister Alexis Wells said. "Angela was a great person and loving and caring."
Wells and her sister Latane Flanagan helped push for the law change as a way to carry on Hurley's legacy.
"You can't get your loved one back, so what you do is you make the best of it and you drive forward. You bring awareness to it. You get change in there."
She added it was the second sibling she had lost because of a driver. Her only brother was killed in a DUI crash nearly 15 years ago to the day of Hurley's crash.
"Big, caring heart. Nobody deserves to have their life taken," she said of her brother Harold Brewster.
A similar story was shared by Melanie Clark, the wife of Hanover Fire Lt. Brad Clark.
Clark was killed in 2018 when responding to a crash on Interstate 295 in the midst of Tropical Storm Michael.
Melanie Clark pushed to strengthen the penalties associated with the law.
"With the latest amendment, this protection is extended to any motorists on our Virginia roadways. How many families will needlessly suffer the loss of a family member? For those who are selfish and disregard the safety of others? Please do your part in protecting those who are defenseless on our dangerous highways and roadways," said Clark.
Wells added she asked for drivers to follow the law not only because it is the law, but because of what it can mean.
"Takes a millisecond. It can be done and it can save lives," Wells said.
As for the driver charged in the crash that killed Hurley, he is set to go to trial in October.
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