Published: Feb 05, 2012 4:19 AM EST
Updated: Feb 05, 2012 4:51 AM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Law enforcement agencies across the Southeast are teaming up for a safety campaign to protect emergency crews working on the side of the road.

This month, Florida Highway Patrol is working with Georgia and Alabama to highlight the importance of the "Move Over" law, which was created to give law enforcement officers and other emergency workers on the side of the road enough space from passing cars.

"Every officer actually knows somebody or has been associated with somebody that was struck by a motor vehicle while doing their job," says Sgt. William Harris, with FHP.

Harris says the law was always a priority, but for the next few weeks, officers will be seeking out drivers violating it.

As the name suggests, when flashing emergency lights are at the side of the road, drivers closest to them must move one lane over. If that isn't possible, they should slow down to 20 miles per hours below the posted speed limit.

Harris says although the rule has been around for almost 10 years, some drivers still do not follow it.

"When we stop these vehicles, that's the common answer -- 'I didn't realize it.' 'I wasn't paying attention.' Or, 'I didn't know it was a law,'" says Harris.

FHP says in the past twelve years nearly 200 officers in the U.S. have died after being struck by a vehicle, and thousands more have been injured.

Harris says in Lee County, a ticket for failing to move over carries a $159 fine, but it's really about the lesson.

"You really want to make them aware because I know that they do not want to strike you and you do not want to get struck by that vehicle," says Harris.

Last year, FHP wrote 8,258 citations for drivers failing to move over.