California unites for Crash Responder Safety Week

November 15, 2023

During Crash Responder Safety Week, California takes critical steps to ensure the safety of first responders

A united front comprising Caltrans, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), California Highway Patrol (CHP), Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District (Sac Metro), the California Tow Truck Association (CCTA), and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has come together in a statewide call to action.

The collaborative effort aims to enhance roadway safety during Crash Responder Safety Week by urging drivers to adhere to safety laws, especially around traffic incidents and work zones.

California’s Move Over law: a key to first responder safety

The Move Over law in California is a crucial aspect of this safety initiative. It mandates that drivers change lanes when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles with flashing amber lights or, if that’s not possible, to slow down.

This law acknowledges the invaluable role of first responders, including roadway workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and tow operators.

These individuals perform life-saving operations on roadsides and deserve a safe working environment.

“Move Over” campaign: a comprehensive approach

To promote this law, Caltrans has joined forces with OTS and CHP to launch the “Move Over” campaign.

This campaign, which is a part of the larger “Be Work Zone Alert” initiative, focuses on raising public awareness through various mediums, including public service announcements, billboards, radio, television, and social and digital media.

It personalizes the message by featuring Caltrans workers and their families, emphasizing that these workers are integral members of the community with families waiting for their safe return.

Safety officials’ perspective on the law Caltrans Director Tony Tavares highlighted the simplicity and effectiveness of the Move Over law in preventing fatalities and serious injuries.

He aspires to achieve zero road fatalities and serious injuries by 2050. Similarly, OTS Director Barbara Rooney and CHP Chief Mike Dust underscored the law’s significance in protecting highway workers and first responders.

Dust noted the adverse impacts of impaired driving, encouraging public vigilance.

The human aspect of roadway safety

Adam House, fire chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, and Craig Baker, president of the California Tow Truck and Emergency Road Service Coalition of America, emphasized the human element in roadway safety.

They reminded the public that first responders are community members with families.

Baker’s focus on training over 900 operators annually on safety reflects the commitment to protecting these “roadway guardians.”

National perspective and statistics

The Move Over law is not unique to California; all 50 states have similar laws to protect roadway workers and first responders.

Despite this, public awareness remains an issue, with a third of the population unaware of these laws.

In 2021 alone, California experienced over 10,000 work-zone crashes, leading to more than 4,500 injuries and 120 fatalities.

These statistics highlight the need for continued public education and adherence to the Move Over law.

The concerted effort during Crash Responder Safety Week in California underscores the importance of the Move Over law in ensuring the safety of first responders.

By slowing down and moving over, drivers can play a crucial role in protecting those who work tirelessly to keep our roads safe.

FSJA Comment

California’s statewide initiative during Crash Responder Safety Week marks a significant step towards enhancing roadway safety.

This collaboration among various agencies emphasizes the critical need for public cooperation in adhering to the Move Over law.

Such efforts are not just about compliance with regulations; they are about safeguarding the lives of those who risk their own to assist others on the road.

The personalization of the “Move Over” campaign, highlighting the families of roadway workers, brings a relatable and poignant aspect to this initiative.

It reminds us that behind every uniform, there is a person with a life beyond their duty.

This drive towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 reflects a broader vision of a safer, more responsible driving culture.

As this initiative gains momentum, it becomes a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of collaborative action in fostering safer road environments for everyone.

Read FSJA’s Crash Responder Safety Week.

Read Next

Subscribe Now