An Arizona man who walked on a freeway to photograph a collision was detained by police who told him he was “not allowed to take photos of a collision scene.”
The cops are wrong, of course, because there is no law against photographing a collision scene.
However, they were correct in informing that he was not allowed to walk on the freeway.
The man, whose name is Tyler Hurst, questioned why the cops were allowed to walk on the freeway if he wasn’t.
The cops informed him that they were investigating the collision, but Tyler could not comprehend this.
“So you can break laws to enforce them?” he asks.
Hurst then wanted to know why the media was allowed to video record the scene if he wasn’t, but the cops pointed out that even they were ordered to stay away from the immediate scene.
It is not clear from the video where exactly they had staged the media, but most states, including Arizona, have laws that make it illegal to walk on a freeway unless you are in an emergency situation, such as your car breaking down or being in an accident.
The cops even pointed out that there was a sign on the on-ramp that specificially states pedestrians are not allowed on the freeway, but the man says he didn’t walk up the ramp, jumping a fence instead.
Hurst pointed out to me on Twitter that the freeway was closed to traffic at the time.
According to a 2008 KTAR article on the topic:
It’s against the law for pedestrians to be on freeways unless their car is broken down and they are walking in the emergency lane to get help. When doing that, be extra careful, says DPS Sgt. Harold Sanders.
“When you’re on the freeway and you’re a pedestrian, you’ve got to stay out of traffic and you’ve got to keep checking for traffic,” Sanders says.
Earlier this year, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Oakland Tribune photojournalist Ray Chavez who had been handcuffed after stopping his car on the freeway to photograph an accident, ruling that cops had every right to handcuff him for walking on the freeway.
Also, a federal law that went into effect in 2008 requires photojournalists covering news on freeways to wear fluorescent vests identifying them as “press.”
So the Arizona cops had plenty of legal recourse on their side to order Hurst off the freeway.
It’s too bad they had to muddle it by insisting he didn’t have the right to take pictures.
On a sidenote: If you’re going to use your iPhone as a video recorder, please turn it sideways to provide a horizontal view. You end up with much less black space.