A highway construction zone on the Elm Street overpass on I-581 through Roanoke, Virginia (VA), was the site of a serious alcohol-related accident in the early morning of December 18, 2014. According to television station WDBJ-7, a man later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol crashed into a State Police cruiser, continued on for a short distance and slammed into a second police vehicle. The troopers inside both of the cruisers suffered injuries, and the at-fault driver was charged with assault in addition to DUI.
The wreck occurred at around 1:30 am, and the police vehicles had their lights and flashers going. In addition to those warnings, Virginia law requires drivers approaching work zones and emergency vehicles to slow down and, when possible, change lanes to create a safety buffer. It is unclear whether the alcohol-impaired driver who caused the accident on the Roanoke bypass will be charged with violating the so-called "move-over" law, but the wreck and resulting injuries illustrate why the legal requirement exists.
The man who hit and injured the state troopers appears to have made several easily avoided mistakes leading up to the accident. The most significant, which sets the stage for tens of thousands of wrecks across the United States each year, was to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. As we enter the height of the holiday season, everyone who attends a Christmas party, New Year's celebration or family dinner marked by toasts must remember to designate a sober driver, arrange for a ride or skip the second or third beverage. Everyone's health depends on it.