Ask a Trooper: Are motorists giving troopers more room on the highway?
Question: I saw a bunch of stuff on the Minnesota State Patrol’s Facebook and Twitter pages about the “Move Over” law and how it came to be after a trooper was killed. Are motorists getting better at giving you room out there?
Answer: You are correct, we did share information in regards to the “Move Over Law.” The law was created in honor of Corporal Ted Foss who was hit and killed on the side of the road while conducting a traffic stop on Aug. 31, 2000. I still remember that day vividly. On this 20th anniversary, we honored Corporal Foss with a new highway memorial sign in southeast Minnesota.
There have been far too many parked emergency and maintenance vehicles hit along the highways, including my own in recent years. It’s concerning because of the dangers it presents. But the good news is its preventable – if motorists make smart choices. There is a lot of room for improvement.
The number of Minnesota State Patrol vehicle that were struck:
- 2016: 7
- 2017: 14
- 2018: 19
- 2019: 47
- 2020 YTD: 6
On this 20th anniversary, Ted’s wife spoke for the first time about that day and how his loss impacted his family and community.
Ted always wanted to be a Minnesota State Trooper. He made his dream come true, and that’s how he met his wife, Andrea. And when Ted died 20 years ago today because a driver failed to move over while he was making a traffic stop, Andrea and Ted’s law enforcement community worked tirelessly on a law in hopes that such a tragedy would never happen again. That’s how the Ted Foss Move Over Law came to be.
Andrea and Ted were a law enforcement family. They met when Ted brought a drunk driver in to the Winona County Jail – Andrea worked for the Winona Police Department. They had dinner and watched Star Trek on their first date. They got married on Sept. 15, 1990, not knowing that their marriage would be cut tragically short just shy of 10 years later.
The morning of Aug. 31, 2000, was like most others in the Foss household: getting the 2-year-old and 5-year-old to day care. Deciding on dinner plans. Heading to their respective jobs. That afternoon Andrea, who was now deputy chief of the Winona Police, learned about a crash on I-90 and assumed Ted was working it and would be home late.
But Ted wasn’t working the crash. He had died at the scene.
Ted had pulled over a van for speeding. He was talking to the driver and her fiancé about taking care of the two little ones in car seats in the back of the van when a FedEx truck struck his squad car and then the van. Ted was hit head-on. Because he was standing at the driver’s side window, there was nothing to protect him.
“I did not plan to live without my husband,” says Andrea, but “good things started filtering in out of all the darkness.” Things like her advocacy, which eventually led to the Ted Foss Move Over Law. The law requires drivers to move one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated — ambulance, fire, law enforcement, and maintenance and construction vehicles. When the law was signed in 2001, Andrea felt “almost elation, euphoria. You know Ted’s death wasn’t for nothing, and something good came out of it and other people can be protected.”
Andrea can understand feelings on both sides of the equation. She worries about the emergency workers on the side of the road, but adds, “I can’t imagine how terrible I would feel knowing I took someone’s father or husband away for the rest of their life. What a terrible thing to carry around.”
That’s not to say she doesn’t get upset when she sees drivers breaking the Move Over Law. “I can’t help but think how absolutely thoughtless it is not to move over. It’s not hard to move over to another lane and slow down,” says Andrea. Most of the time, though, she sees motorists obeying the law: “I’ve seen lots of people slowing down and moving over and it makes me proud.”
If Ted Foss’ widow could say one thing to Minnesota drivers, it would be this: “Please slow down and move over for the people trying to keep us safe and make our roads nice to travel.”
Ted’s legacy lives on in more ways than one: His first grandchild was born last May. Andrea says, “It’s really nice that 20 years have gone by and Ted is still remembered.””
Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota to: Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.