All 50 states have “Move Over” laws in place to protect first responders and other roadside operators. These laws instruct drivers to slow down and move over when they see emergency and recovery vehicles with their lights on. This is an issue we care deeply about; the HAAS Alert team wants all motorists to know about and comply with state Move Over laws. Our service is designed to put an end to the same emergency vehicle collisions that these laws are written to prevent.
These statutes educate drivers on how to react when they see emergency vehicles, and they also give law enforcement a critical tool for citing people that fail to comply. Unfortunately, education and enforcement can only go so far; tens of thousands of roadside collisions still occur annually across the country. Simply stated, Move Over laws help, but they don’t do enough. You can read some of the shocking statistics around this issue in a White Paper we recently released on the topic (sign-up required).
Last week, leaders in Congress (including two Senators and a Representative from our home state of Illinois) formally requested a review of Move Over laws by the Government Accountability Office. Specifically, their letter to the GAO seeks a determination from the Agency on Move Over law effectiveness, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. You can read the letter in full here.
We applaud Senators Duckworth, Durbin and Fischer, as well as Representative Bustos for their forward-thinking action. This review is long overdue and could be the first step toward modernizing Move Over laws. When many of these laws were first passed nearly two decades ago, roads were very different. There were no smartphones or navigation apps, few vehicle-to-vehicle communication tools, and autonomous vehicles were just a distant dream. As a result, existing Move Over laws make use of the only two tools that were available to lawmakers at the time: education and enforcement.
If these policies are updated to support the adoption of modern solutions, we can add a critical third component to Move Over: Digital Alerting. By providing emergency responders, roadside workers, and the communities they serve with resources and technology to provide advance warning and improve driver awareness, these incidents may be eliminated altogether. By going beyond lights and sirens and using solutions like HAAS Alert, drivers and vehicles will have more time to safely comply with Move Over laws.
We believe the right combination of policy and technology can remove the life-threatening risk that first responders, tow truck drivers, roadside assistance personnel, and DOT workers face every day. The request for a GAO review from our elected officials is an encouraging development, and we are committed to assisting lawmakers in exploring new strategies to address this problem. We promise to keep the HAAS Alert community updated on this topic. Together, we can bring this public safety epidemic to an end and make roads safer for everyone.