Friday, December 17, 2010

Protecting Emergency Workers

Contributed by Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council

On December 14, 2010 the Washington State Patrol announced the following in a media release on their website:

Enhanced Emergency Zone Law Will Help Protect Emergency Workers -Increased penalties start Jan. 1 for motorists who do not move over or slow down.

In other words you need to move over and slow down (maybe even stop) when you are approaching an emergency vehicle on the shoulder. An emergency vehicle is a patrol vehicle, fire truck, and ambulance and tow truck. Even though there was a law passed in 2007 requiring drivers to do this.
  • In 2008, a year after the law went into effect, 30 patrol cars were hit by motorists on state highways.
  • In 2009, another 28 patrol vehicles were hit by drivers during roadside traffic stops and other investigations.

As someone who has been on the shoulder of the road with an emergency vehicle (and all the red lights on) I understand just how inattentive some driver are and I am in full support of this law. After all if any driver tells me that they don’t have to pay attention to vehicles on the side of the road (especially emergency vehicles) then I say, this person is not capable of operating a vehicle safely should not be allowed to drive a vehicle on the public roads EVER.

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