Requires drivers to reduce their speed when approaching emergency vehicles displaying blue lights and expands the use of the blue light for rear projection for all volunteer emergency response vehicles.
Ayes (61): Adams, Addabbo, Alesi, Aubertine, Bonacic, Breslin, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Duane, Espada, Farley, Flanagan, Foley, Fuschillo, Golden, Griffo, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Huntley, Johnson C, Johnson O, Klein, Krueger, Kruger, Lanza, Larkin, LaValle, Leibell, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Maziarz, McDonald, Montgomery, Nozzolio, Onorato, Oppenheimer, Padavan, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Robach, Saland, Sampson, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stachowski, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Thompson, Valesky, Volker, Winner, Young
Excused (1): Morahan
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to allowing fire vehicles to display a combination of red, white and/or blue lights for rear projection only
PURPOSE: To protect volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders by requiring motorists to reduce speed when approaching and passing emergency situations on a highway and also to allow for the use of the blue light for rear projection for all volunteer emergency response vehicles.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1. Subdivision (e) of section 1180 of the vehicle and traffic law, as amended by chapter 211 of the laws of 2004 is amended by this legislation to require drivers to drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and passing an emergency situation involving any authorized emergency vehicle displaying a blue light or one or more red or combination red, white or blue lights.
Section 2. Paragraph 4 of subdivision 41 of section 375 of the vehicle and traffic law, as amended by chapter 45 of the laws of 2006 is amended to allow a blue light to be affixed to any motor vehicle owned by a volunteer member of a fire department provided that the volunteer firefighter has been authorized, in writing, to do so by the chief of the fire department or company of which he/she is a member.
The term "fire vehicle" is defined to include a vehicle ordinarily operated by a chief or assistant chief of a volunteer company or fire department.
Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
JUSTIFICATION: Volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders regularly attend to emergency incidents on state's highways. Performing emergency duties on the side of the road presents significant risks to emergency responders. Unfortunately, in these situations, many emergency responders (including volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers) are killed or injured as a result of being struck by a passing motorist. Studies have shown that the blue light is the most noticeable colored light, and as a result, provides the highest level of safety.
Current law allows for one or more blue lights or combination of blue, red and/or white lights to be affixed to a police vehicle provided that they are displayed for rear projection only. Volunteer firefighters have long had the exclusive use of one blue light that was affixed to a motor vehicle owned by a volunteer member of a fire department or on a motor vehicle owned by a member of such person's family. The light was allowed
to be displayed or projected in 360 degree fashion. Use of the light was prohibited in combination with red lights on all fire vehicles.
Studies conducted by Ford Motor Company and the Florida Highway Patrol, clearly indicated that the perception-decision-response process in driving, especially at night favored the blue light over other colors particularly when approaching from the rear. This bill would extend the perceptual advantage attributed to the blue light in certain circumstances, now enjoyed by police vehicles, to all volunteer emergency vehicles. It allows the blue light use for rear projection purposes and leaves in place the exclusive use of the blue light by volunteers on personal vehicles to be projected in 360 degree fashion.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5593--A 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE May 20, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sen. AUBERTINE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation -- recom- mitted to the Committee on Transportation in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- reported favorably from said committee and committed to the Committee on Codes -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to allowing fire vehicles to display a combination of red, white and/or blue lights for rear projection only THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision (e) of section 1180 of the vehicle and traffic law, as amended by chapter 211 of the laws of 2004, is amended to read as follows: (e) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the require- ments of subdivision (a) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when approaching and passing by an emergency situation involving any authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing on a highway and which is displaying one or more red or combination red
[and], white, AND/OR BLUE lights pursuant to the provisions of paragraph two AND SUBPARAGRAPH B OF PARAGRAPH FOUR of subdivision forty-one of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians, or other traffic by reason of weather or highway conditions, including, but not limited to a highway construction or maintenance work area. S 2. Paragraph 4 of subdivision 41 of section 375 of the vehicle and traffic law, as amended by chapter 45 of the laws of 2006, is amended to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD11327-04-0 S. 5593--A 2
4. Blue light. a. One blue light may be affixed to any motor vehicle owned by a volunteer member of a fire department or on a motor vehicle owned by a member of such person's family residing in the same household or by a business enterprise in which such person has a proprietary interest or by which he or she is employed, provided such volunteer firefighter has been authorized in writing to so affix a blue light by the chief of the fire department or company of which he or she is a member, which authorization shall be subject to revocation at any time by the chief who issued the same or his or her successor in office. Such blue light may be displayed exclusively by such volunteer firefighter on such a vehicle only when engaged in an emergency operation. The
[use of blue and red light combinations shall be prohibited on all fire vehi- cles. The use of blue lights on fire vehicles shall be prohibited and the]use of blue lights on vehicles shall be restricted for use only by a volunteer firefighter except as otherwise provided for in subparagraph b of this paragraph. b. In addition to the red and white lights authorized to be displayed pursuant to paragraph two of this subdivision, one or more blue lights or combination blue and red lights or combination blue, red and white lights may be affixed to a police VEHICLE AND FIRE vehicle, provided that such blue light or lights shall be displayed on a police VEHICLE AND FIRE vehicle for rear projection only. In the event that the trunk or rear gate of a police VEHICLE AND FIRE vehicle obstructs or dimin- ishes the visibility of other emergency lighting on such [vehicle]VEHI- CLES, a blue light may be affixed to and displayed from the trunk, rear gate or interior of such [vehicle]VEHICLES. Such lights may be displayed on a police VEHICLE AND FIRE vehicle when such [vehicle is]VEHICLES ARE engaged in an emergency operation. Nothing contained in this subparagraph shall be deemed to authorize the use of blue lights on police VEHICLES AND FIRE vehicles unless such vehicles also display one or more red or combination red and white lights as otherwise authorized in this subdivision. c. The commissioner is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations relating to the use, placement, power and display of blue lights on a police VEHICLE AND FIRE vehicle. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.