LANSING -The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved House Resolution 190, sponsored by state Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights), designating October 2013 as Emergency Vehicle Awareness Month.

“For police officers, paramedics, and firefighters who are responding to life threatening emergencies response time is critical,” said Yanez. “As a former firefighter, I know how difficult it can be to drive a fire truck through traffic when drivers’ don’t allow you to pass by pulling over to the right. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t respond properly when they hear a siren and see flashing lights, which could cause an accident and create an emergency situation of its own.”

In testimony before the committee, Yanez noted that, nationwide, 15.2 percent of firefighter fatalities between 1977 and 2012 happened while responding to an emergency. Yanez also described a personal experience when driving a fire truck to a scene on rain-soaked streets. Instead of getting out of his way, a driver slammed on his brakes and stopped in front of him. Yanez was forced to swerve the 40,000 pound fire truck around the vehicle, barely avoiding an accident. October is also Fire Safety Month, and combining fire safety and emergency vehicle awareness will help keep the public and emergency responders safer.

“Michigan has laws requiring drivers to give police and emergency vehicles a lane or pull over to the right and stop. However, there is clearly a need to constantly remind the public about the law, and what can happen if they ignore it or drive distracted and fail to notice an approaching emergency vehicle,” said Yanez. “I thank the committee for passing this resolution and giving emergency responders another opportunity to educate Michiganders and keep everyone safer.”