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senate Bill S. 2700

Should the Feds Fund Efforts to Make Drivers Aware of ‘Move Over’ Laws?

Argument in favor

First responders are performing an incredibly valuable service when they respond to roadside accidents. They shouldn’t be put at risk of injury in the course of performing their jobs, and educating drivers about moving over when first responders are on the side of the road is an important way to keep first responders safe.

jimK's Opinion
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11/16/2019
My first reaction was NAY, since laws are in place. A little more thought leads me to a YAY opinion instead. I know several people who are hard of hearing and do not hear warning sirens as soon as they should. I have seen well intentioned but distracted drivers navigating around accidents not 'register' that an emergency vehicle was approaching. I have seen very close calls for state police tending to vehicles on berms and have seen news reports of tragic impacts. I think that an in-dash digital warning indicator is an exceptional idea that, in scaled-up production would be a cost-effective way to protect first responders as well as drivers. The other stuff, like emergency braking and lane change alerts are similar. The more they are installed, the better and more economical they will become. No one needs to be unnecessarily injured, no driver needs to live with the knowledge that they critically injured someone by accidents that today's technology could have prevented from ever happening. This is a small price to pay.
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Eric's Opinion
···
11/16/2019
Absolutely, I see comments about this should be a state law however our highways and freeways are federally funded and maintained. Besides safety should be on every level, State or federal
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Mindfulness's Opinion
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11/16/2019
It’s a National concern because we travel across State lines. Therefore, “move over” applies Everywhere, don’t you think?
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Argument opposed

Since all 50 states already have first responder laws in place, drivers are already responsible for knowing about Move Over laws if they’re on the road. There’s no need for additional education on this law. Additionally, there are some indications that Move Over laws are used to create revenue for police departments, which would be troubling if true.

JTJ's Opinion
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11/16/2019
Driver testing and licensing is a state responsibility. The federal government must learn to stay in its lane and do its own job of balancing the budget.
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Caren's Opinion
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11/16/2019
No, not the federal government! This should be the responsibility of each state government. We don’t need the federal government controlling everything in our lives and involved in everything!! This is supposed to be the land of the free and not the land of the oppressed. We have standard laws to protect freedoms and law enforcement that should enforce those laws when others violate the rights of others.
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Matthew's Opinion
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11/16/2019
As with seat belt and helmet laws, this is something that is best left to the states to decide and ultimately to fund.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedOctober 24th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 2700?

This bill — the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act — would make Move Over law education compliance a national highway safety priority under existing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) programs. This would allow states to apply for grant funding to execute Move Over law awareness campaigns and equip vehicles with digital alert and crash avoidance technology.

This bill would also:

  • Require NHTSA to promulgate rules mandating crash avoidance technology on all new motor vehicles, within two years, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and lane departure warnings. 
  • Require all federal fleet vehicles to have crash avoidance technology (automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and lane departure warnings) within five years.
  • Require all federal fleet vehicles used for emergency response activities to be equipped with digital alert technology within five years.
  • Require research on the efficacy of Move Over laws and related public awareness campaigns as well as recommendations on how to improve these efforts to prevent roadside deaths.

Impact

Drivers; first responders; roadside safety; driving laws; driving law education; and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2700

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced this bill to reduce first responder roadside deaths

“We’ve seen heartbreaking roadside accidents in Illinois this year, and we need to reverse the alarming rise in first responder roadside deaths. The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act will provide states with the resources to better enforce ‘Move Over’ laws and help keep our first responders safe." 

Original cosponsor Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) adds

“The troubling pattern of first responder roadside deaths demands action. I’m glad to be working with Senator Durbin and Representative Bustos on this important legislation that will help increase awareness of ‘Move Over’ laws and promote innovative solutions to reduce risk and better protect our first responders.”

House sponsor Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) says

“We need to bring an end to the preventable tragedies we have seen along our major roads and highways. This legislation will help do just that by ensuring our ‘Move Over’ laws are followed, crash avoidance technology is implemented and our first responders are protected. As the wife of a sheriff, I’m grateful for the work our first responders do every day and I thank Senators Durbin and Duckworth for partnering on these efforts.”

Rep. Bustos says this bill provides important funding to make people aware of life-saving Move Over laws:

“We want to make sure that there is funding for public awareness [of Move Over laws] so that [lack of awareness, which is currently] 70% gets down to — if we can have any say about it — 0%. We have good laws in Illinois and we have to make sure that people know about them… [This bill] allows states to apply for federal grants to educate the public, and to purchase and deploy digital alert technology, which could be a real godsend in the future."

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) supports this bill. Its president, Cathy Chase, says: 

“The job of first responders on our highways who are saving lives and protecting motorists should not be a death-defying act.  The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act attacks this problem head-on by taking a comprehensive approach to combating distraction and other crash factors that lead to roadside collisions and needless tragedies. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and Representative Cheri Bustos for their safety leadership in introducing this legislation.  It will ensure proven technologies – automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems – are in all new cars, and not just luxury models, as well as in new federal fleet vehicles. Advocates also supports the strong focus on ‘Move Over’ laws and the need for increasing public awareness combined with advancing technological countermeasures. These important provisions will help better protect the heroes on our highways, law enforcement officers and emergency responders.”

Some say Move Over laws are used as a trap for drivers, rather than as a way to keep first responders safe. In Georgia, State Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) argues that his state’s law is too vague, and that the hefty $500 fine associated with breaking it makes it clear that the Move Over law is “clearly being used for revenue enhancement,” which isn’t its original intent.

This legislation has one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), has one House cosponsor, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN).


Of NoteAs of October 2019, there had been 29 auto-related first responder deaths nationwide in 2019 — an increase of eight over the 2018 figure of 21 auto-related first responder deaths at the same point in the year. 

Move Over laws apply to two conditions involving emergency vehicles displaying flashing emergency lights: 

  • When motorists see flashing lights and hear sirens, especially in their rear view mirrors or at an intersection, they’re supposed to move over to the right to allow a first responder vehicle to get through as quickly as possible.
  • When motorists see stationary flashing lights ahead of them in the same direction, they’re supposed to pull to the left at least one lane (two if possible) and slow down, alert and ready to receive additional driving instructions from the police.

The first Move Over law was passed in South Carolina in 1966 to protect emergency responders when they were stopped on the side of the road. Before this law’s passage, a first responder was held at fault for being too close to the side of the road if they were struck by oncoming motorists. The need for this law was realized when James D. Garcia, a paramedic, was deemed “at fault” after being hit while helping a patient on the side of the road. 

In 2000, the Dept. of Transportation and Federal Highway Association (FHA) began discussing their concerns for first responder safety when stopped to help others. This led to the creation of a national standard, and states began adopting their own Move Over laws over the 2008s and 2010s. Hawaii was the last state to pass a state-level move over law, with its legislation passing in July 2012.

Studies show that more than 70% of Americans are unaware of Move Over Laws.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / tillsonburg)

AKA

Protecting Roadside First Responders Act

Official Title

A bill to amend title 23, United States Code, to provide for efforts relating to Move Over laws, to amend title 49, United States Code, to require crash avoidance technology on motor vehicles, and for other purposes.

    My first reaction was NAY, since laws are in place. A little more thought leads me to a YAY opinion instead. I know several people who are hard of hearing and do not hear warning sirens as soon as they should. I have seen well intentioned but distracted drivers navigating around accidents not 'register' that an emergency vehicle was approaching. I have seen very close calls for state police tending to vehicles on berms and have seen news reports of tragic impacts. I think that an in-dash digital warning indicator is an exceptional idea that, in scaled-up production would be a cost-effective way to protect first responders as well as drivers. The other stuff, like emergency braking and lane change alerts are similar. The more they are installed, the better and more economical they will become. No one needs to be unnecessarily injured, no driver needs to live with the knowledge that they critically injured someone by accidents that today's technology could have prevented from ever happening. This is a small price to pay.
    Like (73)
    Follow
    Share
    Driver testing and licensing is a state responsibility. The federal government must learn to stay in its lane and do its own job of balancing the budget.
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely, I see comments about this should be a state law however our highways and freeways are federally funded and maintained. Besides safety should be on every level, State or federal
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    It’s a National concern because we travel across State lines. Therefore, “move over” applies Everywhere, don’t you think?
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    As with seat belt and helmet laws, this is something that is best left to the states to decide and ultimately to fund.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    No, not the federal government! This should be the responsibility of each state government. We don’t need the federal government controlling everything in our lives and involved in everything!! This is supposed to be the land of the free and not the land of the oppressed. We have standard laws to protect freedoms and law enforcement that should enforce those laws when others violate the rights of others.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. As a career emergency responder, I can state that I observed an increasing number of drivers who fail to follow this rule. I’ve witnessed people stop in the middle of the road, try to beat emergency vehicle, and I’ve nearly been struck by inattentive drivers while on the scene of an incident.
    Like (9)
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    The eight most feared words, “We’re from the government, we’re here to help.” One size does not fit all, The states should deal with their traffic laws as they know better what and how.
    Like (9)
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    I drive near the Wisconsin-Illinois border and in the general Chicago area with some frequency. I also get to drive other areas that are less congested. Dick Durbin has good reason for this bill. The most frequent common denominator I see in all of these areas is the lack of respect drivers have for others on the road. The sense of entitlement and arrogance many drivers project in their driving behavior is actually quite obvious when attention is paid to other drivers’ aggressiveness. When driving in foggy conditions I can’t help but wonder how many of those driving without headlights on are highly narcissistic. Similar questions can be asked of those who fail to move over to make room for traffic entering via an on ramp, drivers who drive solely in the passing lane until they cut you off to make an exit, drivers who tailgate in an effort to get you to drive faster, ... . It’s no wonder first responders are at such risk.
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    It’s pretty awful that we have to do this again, since laws are in place which cover this situation. One problem might bee that many states are like Kansas where no one getting a renewal on their driver’s license has to take a written test anymore. Another problem is people are not paying attention to their driving. They are looking at their phones or texting, etc. and there are people who are hard of hearing so they don’t hear warning sirens as soon as they should. These and other situations can lead to distracted drivers who drive around accidents, or just don’t realize they are active accidents. My husband was almost run over when we stopped to help people who had an accident. The drivers didn’t slow down or even act like they knew what the situation was. Police are always dealing with distracted or angry drivers who don’t want to slow down or navigate them tending to vehicles accidents. I think that an in-dash digital warning indicator is an exceptional idea that, in scaled-up production would be a cost-effective way to protect first responders as well as drivers. Our vehicle has activated blinders & beeps that tell us when we are within a certain distance of an object and it has emergency braking and lane change alerts are similar. It can be done at an economical price.
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    YUP...
    Like (8)
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    I’m with @jimK on this. My initial thought was... OMG, here we go again; another law and its accompanying expense to support and ultimately enforce another existing law. Being from California, I’d grown immune to distracted driving, even after hearing and watching all the news reports of the result of distracted driving, or as @jimK noted, hearing impaired people as well. Since relocating from San Francisco to rural Indiana 1.5 years ago, we have witnessed 1 as well as read of 2 additional serious accidents involving slow moving Amish family buggies, all within a 2 mile radius of home and all 3 of which were related to distracted driving by the driver of the motor vehicle. I’ve additionally witnessed on many occasions the failure of drivers to move over for emergency vehicles, and if its an emergency, the first responder isn’t planning to stop and issue a citation while enroute to an emergency. We have crash avoidance technology in both of our vehicles and even with this technology, it’s amazing just how quickly something can occur. I fully support any move that can draw real awareness to this issue, whether rural, suburban or urban.
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    Some of you act like our roads EMS police and what not don’t get federal funding. They do.
    Like (7)
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    That licensed drivers don’t realize they are to move over for emergency vehicles is simply astounding......be that as it may... yes they must educate these people
    Like (6)
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    Yes
    Like (6)
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    This is one of those things you're supposed to be doing instead of supporting an imbecile due to party politics
    Like (6)
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    Better alerts will help prevent accidents.
    Like (6)
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    Go to most major cities, drivers need education.
    Like (5)
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    I love jimK’s response! I was a NAY at first too, but more thought does place me squarely on YAY! First: the educational aspect. As a 43 year driver in over a dozen major cities, I couldn’t understand how anyone would not know to move over, but I need to think of others, especially new drivers! I don’t use personal electronic devices in my car, but it is intertwined with many other drivers day-to-day, but use the technology for awareness, not as a crutch. And lastly, nothing “educates” me faster than a ticket, but again that’s me and I need to think of others first. Thanks jimK!
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    Yes! If we are able to save lives by making people more aware of move over laws, then we should!
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