The CHP opposition letter raised three main concerns in its opposition letter. The first is that the Yellow Alert would significantly increase the number of alerts displayed on highway Changeable Message Signs, decreasing the effectiveness of the alert system by desensitizing the public and law enforcement officials.
However, AB 8 has been narrowly tailored to ensure that the system is not overwhelmed. The alerts would only be issued for severe or fatal hit-and-runs when law enforcements have sufficient information identifying the driver or vehicle. According to an LADP analysis of five years of hit-and-run data in LA, less than 8% of reported hit-and-runs involved an injury and a mere .1% involved a severe or fatal injury (keep in mind that Los Angeles has a much higher frequency of hit-and-runs than most, if not all, cities in California). Additionally, to further prevent the system from being overwhelmed, the alerts would only be issued on a regional basis.
When all these factors are combined, the Yellow Alert would be issued in far fewer than .1% of hit-and-runs and this should be enough to ease any concerns about an overwhelmed system.
While the implementation of AB 60 will hopefully decrease accidents by previously unlicensed drivers, there is no data to indicate that most hit-and-runs are committed by these drivers. Even if unlicensed drivers are more likely to flee the scene of an accident, for AB 60 to significantly decrease the incidence of hit-and-run accidents, these drivers would have to make up the overwhelming majority of hit-and-run drivers, something that is highly improbable.
Finally, the CHP letter stated that there is no process for determining how alerts would be prioritized if multiple alerts are activated simultaneously, a problem that would supposedly be worsened by the addition of the Yellow Alert. The Emergency Alert System, however, has three existing alert systems already in place: the AMBER, Blue, and Silver Alerts. It is doubtful that adding one more alert would suddenly impair the entire system. This is not to say that a method for prioritizing alerts is unnecessary but rather, that that concern exists independent of the Yellow Alert.
The Yellow Alert would not be activated for all hit-and-runs. The alert wouldn’t be activated for all hit-and-runs that involve an injury or for hit-and-runs in which the injury is serious or fatal. The alert would only be activated for severe or fatal hit-and-runs for which local law enforcement has sufficient information to identify the driver or vehicle and chooses to use the CMS. Additionally, even then, the Alert would only be used on a regional basis. AB 8 is a narrowly-tailored, carefully crafted bill that will bring justice to victims and their families without overwhelming the state’s Emergency Alert System.