TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Department of Public Safety (UDPS) is recognizing Crash Responders Safety Week, Nov. 13 – 17, a nationwide initiative dedicated to promoting the safety of crash responders who risk their lives daily on Utah roadways.

First responders play a crucial role in saving the lives of citizens. They put their lives at risk in many ways. The UDPS along with numerous national safety organizations are asking Utahns to practice extreme caution while driving near accidents, incidents, and emergencies where first responders are present.

Gov. Spencer J. Cox issued a declaration in 2022 officially recognizing Crash Responders Safety Week to be honored in Utah each November.

In the declaration, Cox reminded all Utahns of the “Move Over Law,” which states that drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, or towing vehicles displaying flashing red, red and 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.

Nationally, 34 emergency responders struck-by-vehicle fatalities were reported in 2023, and Utah Highway Patrol reported 15 struck-by incidents that were non-fatal. UDPS emphasizes the shared responsibility of keeping responders safe.

First responders participate in a staged safety demonstration during a media event to honor Crash Responders Safety Week.

“When you think about the conditions we have to at times work under. With very poor weather conditions, with it snowing with injured people inside the car who are screaming and need assistance with live traffic going by these scenes can be very chaotic,” said Sgt. Cameron Rhoden, Utah Highway Patrol. “Imagine trying to do and accomplish what needs to happen on the side of the roadway with all of these things happening and going on at the same time with officers trying to investigate, people trying to control traffic these scenes can be at times very, very dangerous.”

The theme for this year’s safety week is “Protect those who protect you.” UHP officials say that it is a shared responsibility of everyone on Utah’s roadways to ensure safety. With winter conditions approaching drivers need to be even more aware of what is going on around them. Drivers are urged to address their own driving habits, plan for hazardous conditions, and expect the unexpected.

“Each of us plays a critical role in preventing accidents altogether. Through correct driving behaviors and by being attentive, avoiding distractions, and adjusting our speed to match the road conditions, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of incidents and ease the burden on our crash first responders,” said UHP Col. Mike Rapich. “Our goal is simple to ensure that every crash responder returns home safely to their families.”