This frustration is shared by law enforcement personnel who often face the ire of drivers inconvenienced by the situation.
“People should realize that those involved in public safety, such as firefighters, law enforcement officers and paramedics, do not close a roadway for their own enjoyment,” said Cpl. Bryan Clanton, Griffin Police Department spokesman. “Roadways are usually closed to protect evidence or protect the public from a dangerous situation.”
One way to alleviate tension in such situations is for drivers to familiarize themselves with frequently traveled areas, learning alternate routes in the event of such road closures.
“Individuals should know more than one way to travel to their destination. The last thing anyone in public safety wants to do is stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic without good cause,” Clanton said. “There is a reason that the state of Georgia has laws such as the “Move Over” law which states that one must obey an authorized person directing traffic - it’s to prevent injuries and fatalities. Even though a person is inconvenienced by the delay in their travel, they should try to empathize with the person who has been injured, killed in a collision or the officers trying to prevent further injury.”
According to Maj. Wendell Beam, who heads the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Patrol Division, the assistance of motorists is important in maintaining the safety of the roadways near a wreck scene.
“The biggest thing is for drivers to know that we don’t do this to inconvenience them - we do it out of necessity. We attempt to reopen the roads as soon as possible but that all depends on the wreck. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours,” Beam said. “The biggest thing we ask is cooperation from the other drivers.”
While authorities realize that drivers may not be familiar enough with an area to have a predetermined alternate route, motorists must also understand the circumstances under which the officers are working.
“Drivers should realize that an officer directing traffic might not be able to give directions to you if you stop and delay traffic further. They should follow the officer’s traffic control directions as quickly and safely as possible, then stop somewhere and ask for driving directions, if needed,” Clanton said. “One should always have an alternate route planned. If, in the rare occasion one is not available, then they should realize that the roadway will be cleared as soon as possible. Arguing with public safety personnel about your need to travel where you want to go only delays them in finishing the situation and could lead to a traffic citation once the situation is over.”