NSA Attends National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week at USDOT Headquarters

Friday, November 17, 2017

With a podium lined with emergency responder vehicles, Sheriff James Voutour, Niagara County Sheriff's Office, NY, joined the Federal Highways Administration and the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao and other dignitaries for kick-off remarks at the FHWA’s National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week (NTIRAW) event, Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 10am, in front of USDOT Headquarters.  Sheriff Voutour represented the National Sheriffs' Association and the NSA Traffic Safety Committee with all TIM stakeholder disciplines represented.  With the podium flanked by response vehicles from LEO agencies, the US Flag draped between two DC Fire Department ladder units over the podium, Sheriff Voutour emphasized that the economic and societal harm from motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $871 billion last year. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. 

For Law Enforcement and other responders, traffic incidents create unsafe situations for other people on the road, and put motorist and responder lives at risk and cause delays. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 160+ law enforcement officers struck and killed by a vehicle since 2000, and prior to 2016, traffic-related incidents have been the number one cause of officer fatalities in 15 of the last 20 years.  Sheriff Voutour underscored that overall, those not directly involved in crashes pay for over three-quarters of all crash costs, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and congestion related costs such as travel delay, excess fuel consumption, and increased environmental impacts.  In addition to the tragic loss of life and injuries, in 2010 these costs, borne by society rather than by crash victims, totaled over $187 billion.  Of the total price tag for roadway crashes in the 2010 report, $277 billion was attributed to economic costs — nearly $900 for every person living in the U.S. Harm from loss of life, pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries was pegged at $594 billion. 

He raised the question "How Can Law Enforcement and the Public Address Traffic Incidents Effectively?"  The answer is clear: Enforcement.  Preventing crashes and roadway incidents is the most critical factor to address in Traffic Incident Management.  Enforcing impaired driving, speed, occupant restraints, distracted driving and other roadway laws is the primary tool for law enforcement to curb these roadway deaths and injuries, and the economic impact to our communities and citizens.

A well-developed Traffic Incident Management response, including law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, towing and recovery, safety patrols, transportation and maintenance crews and 911 professionals is critical for reducing incident response time and roadway clearance, which reduces lives lost and economic impact. 

Another effective tool for communities are STRONG Move Over Laws.  To further reduce secondary crashes, loss of responder lives, and economic impact, strong Move Over laws have demonstrated effectiveness.  "Move Over, America" is a partnership originally founded in 2007 by the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriffs' Association and the National Association of Police Organizations, with full support of the American Association of State Troopers. The campaign coordinates efforts to educate Americans about "Move Over" laws and how they help protect the law enforcement officers who risk their lives protecting the public.