October 9, 2019

New Digital Alert Legislation Will Save Lives

In a major move yesterday, federal legislators from our home state of Illinois announced new legislation intended to bolster "Move Over" laws nationwide, paving the way to deploy life-saving technology for emergency responders. At a press conference announcing the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) outlined a comprehensive set of policies and initiatives that will increase public awareness of Move Over laws, improve motorist compliance with those laws, and enhance automotive technology standards. The legislation will also fund the deployment of Digital Alerting technology, like HAAS Alert, for first responders across the country. Taken together, these efforts will provide state and local law enforcement, firefighters, EMS workers, and the communities they serve with resources to improve roadway safety and ultimately save lives.

Senator Durbin and Representative Bustos' legislation builds on their letter from earlier this summer that called on the Government Accountability Office to determine the effectiveness of existing Move Over laws. The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act goes much further than a review of existing policy, though. In addition to requiring NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) to research Move Over law efficacy and identify recommendations for improvement, the legislation will also classify move over law education and compliance as a national highway safety priority under NHTSA standards.

This change would mean that first responders across the country, who already operate on shoestring budgets, will have access to new, dedicated federal funding for deployment of technology that improves driver compliance with Move Over laws. The legislation specifies digital alerting technology, such as HAAS Alert, as a central tool in a multi-pronged approach to reducing struck-by collisions on our roadways. Digital alerting delivers real-time notifications to drivers through in-dash systems and navigation apps when they are in the vicinity of an active emergency vehicle, providing them with critical additional seconds to react and safely Move Over in time. 

The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act not only gives police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, roadside personnel, and other rapid response providers additional resources, but also calls to mandate the use of digital alerting technology in federal fleets by 2025 while advancing other important collision avoidance technology. By combining federal dollars for education and awareness, institutional research into policy efficacy, and federally mandated safety standards, this legislation represents the most ambitious national effort to ensure first responder safety since the emergence of Move Over laws more than a decade ago.

During their press conference, Senator Durbin and Representative Bustos spoke movingly about deadly and preventable collisions between first responders and other drivers that fail to move over.  Twenty nine first responders have already died this year from these collisions, including a firefighter just last week in South Carolina and three state troopers in our own state. It's long past time for our country to address this problem directly, and no one understands that need more than our first responders. Our shared priority is to make sure this new legislation becomes law so that we may honor and protect those who protect us every day.

We hope you'll join us in contacting your US Senators and Representatives in calling for the passage of the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act.

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