Two Illinois Democrats propose new national road safety bill

Oct. 21, 2019

Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Cheri Bustos are behind the proposed legislation

A new bill has been introduced in Congress called the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act, which is designed by bill sponsors Sen. Dick Durbin (D. - Illinois) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D. - Illinois) to reduce first responder roadside casualties by establishing a new national road traffic safety priority.

The bill looks to boost public awareness of Move Over laws and to encourage the adoption of new and innovative life-saving vehicle technology.

Durbin released a statement, saying in part: “We need to do more to respond to the alarming rise in first responder roadside deaths. … “Move Over laws like Scott’s Law in Illinois are critical to keeping first responders safe when they are responding to an incident, but it’s clear that we need to raise awareness of these laws and add digital alert technology for drivers. The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act will provide states with the resources to better enforce these laws and help keep our first responders safe.”

The bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to enact rules mandating crash avoidance technology on all new motor vehicles by 2022 including automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, and lane-departure warning systems. All federal fleet vehicles would likewise be required to have similar crash avoidance technology and those used for emergency response activities would need to be equipped with digital alert technology by 2025. Finally, NHTSA would produce research findings on the efficacy of present “Move Over” laws and related public awareness campaigns as well as recommendations on how to improve these efforts to prevent roadside deaths

NHTSA operates two federal grant programs focused on highway safety, but neither currently addresses Move Over laws, Durbin added.

The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act would establish Move Over law education and compliance as a national highway safety priority under existing NHTSA programs, allowing states to apply for grant funding to execute awareness campaigns, and to equip vehicles with digital alert and crash avoidance technology.

“Across the country, and right here in our communities in Illinois, we have seen too many preventable tragedies occur during stops along major roads and highways,” Bustos added. “We must do more to ensure our Move Over laws are followed, protect our first responders and save lives, which is what makes this new legislation so important.”