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New Federal Rule Seeks to Improve Officer Visibility at Roadside

NCJ Number
THE POLICE CHIEF Volume: 74 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2007 Pages: 24,25,27
Richard J. Ashton
Date Published
July 2007
3 pages
This article reviews the history and content of the Federal regulation for police officers regarding the type of high-visibility safety apparel they must wear under specified conditions in performing their duties on Federal-aid highways.
On November 22, 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) enacted Section 634.3 of Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations. It requires that "All workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel." "Workers" are "people on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highways, such as ... law enforcement personnel when directing traffic, investigating crashes, and handling lane closures, obstructed roadways, and disasters within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway." This definition of "worker" reflects the language of one of the alternatives proposed to the FHWA by the Highway Safety Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Since this rule will not become effective until November 24, 2008, State and local public safety agencies should determine whether funding for the purchase of high-visibility safety apparel is obtainable as part of an eligible Section 402 highway safety project included in their State's approved highway safety plan. Also, before ordering such safety apparel, inquiries should be made about Federal standards for the features of this apparel. Further, liability and workers' compensation issues must be reviewed regarding a circumstance in which injuries or death occur to an officer who is not wearing the required safety apparel under conditions specified in the regulation. 16 notes