SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Emergency responders across the country work tirelessly daily to help save lives of members of their communities.
Utah Highway Patrol says hundreds of emergency responders experience close calls, are struck and either injured or killed while responding to these incidents every year.
November 10-16 has been designated by the Federal Highway Administration as National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week.
“We want to just shed light on the issues first responders face while we are on the scenes of these major crash incidents throughout our freeway system, our highway system and make sure we’re getting the cooperation we feel is necessary from other motorists that re passing by those scenes,” Sergeant Nick Street with the Utah Highway Patrol says.
Utah’s Move Over Law contained in Utah Code 41-6a-904 states drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles or towing vehicles displaying flashing red, red & white, red and blue lights or amber lights need to slow down and provide as much space as practical to the stationary vehicles, and, move over a lane if it’s safe and clear.
“The law requires that you [drivers] give us the lane or you slow down significantly if you’re unable to give up that lane, next to where the first responders are dealing with an incident,” Sgt. Street adds.
Sgt. Street says it is a law citizens have the responsibility to follow but encourages drivers to also recognize the troopers responding to these incidents are people.
“We would prefer you do it just out of the sense of our well being. We’re human beings…on the side of the road and we’d like to make sure we’re able to go home to our families at the end of the day,” Sgt. Street adds.
All 50 states have enacted “Move Over” laws, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found despite the law 71% of Americans are unaware of these laws.
The campaign was created in efforts to draw public awareness to the dangers of emergency responders face when responding to a traffic incident.
The campaign was also created to help drivers understand they too are at risk of injury or death when on the scene of an incident.
Sgt. Street says when drivers do pull over the action speaks to those troopers louder than words ever could.
“When we’re able to be out there and look over our shoulder and see that people are slowing down and moving over–we shoot them a thumbs up and see that for the majority of people there aren’t any issues, and give us that positive experience with doing our job,” Street says.
The Utah Highway Patrol released the tips listed below:
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
- Slow down and move over when approaching and passing an incident scene to provide a protective buffer for you, for responders, and the motorists behind you.
DID YOU KNOW?
- One in seven firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty are killed in vehicle-related incidents.
- Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death of EMS/EMT responders.
- Traffic incidents are a leading cause of death for police officers.
- You can get a ticket if you do not slow down and move over.
If you can steer it, clear it. Many drivers think they should not move their car if they are involved in a fender-bender or crash. Even if their vehicle is drivable and there are no injuries, they believe they should wait until the police arrive and can make an accident report before moving their cars. But this is not true and actually puts them, their vehicles, and other people’s lives at risk.
To learn more about the campaign click here.