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Senator Curren Price and Assemblyman Steve Fox Introduce Bill for ‘Next-Of-Kin’ Notification Following Serious Traffic Crashes

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SACRAMENTO - Senator Curren Price (D- Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Steve Fox (D-Palmdale) introduced legislation that will ensure law enforcement personnel can notify next-of-kin quickly in the event of a traffic incident in which victims are incapacitated.  Often, it can take days for family members to learn their loved one was killed or seriously injured in a crash.  The California Motor Vehicle Emergency Contact Locator Act of 2013 will solve this problem.

“Many times, a family’s only indication that something bad happened is the fact that the loved one did not arrive at home when they were expected,” said Fox. “Senator Price and I believe our legislative solution will create a low-cost, efficient, and immediate way for law enforcement personnel to find and inform families about their loved ones.”

AB 397 will create a voluntary emergency contact registry for California motorists that will be linked to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Passage of this bill will establish the nation’s first VIN Emergency Contact Locator (VIN ECON) database which will be accessible to authorized law enforcement agencies nationwide.  The idea for AB 397 was originated by Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis P. Zine in response to a 2007 car crash in the San Fernando Valley involving the death of a 72-year-old mother from Paso Robles.  The bill is co-sponsored by the City of Los Angeles and the non-profit organization We Save Lives founded by Candace Lightner (also the founder of MADD).

This bill does not propose any changes in the manufacturing of vehicles, but utilizes a law enforcement database. For example, a crash occurs, and John Smith is critically injured and unable to communicate.  Law enforcement cannot locate the victim's emergency contact information and/or family; but law enforcement can tap into the database established under this bill and obtain contact information within seconds necessary to notify designated emergency contact(s).

"This is a targeted, common sense approach to an important public safety issue," said Lightner.  "It is unacceptable for families and crash victims to suffer because of lack of adequate or seriously delayed notification. We must ensure that law enforcement officials have the resource necessary to quickly access a motor vehicle owner’s emergency contact information that will help save lives and alert family members in the event of a tragic crash.”

Fox said, "The Motor Vehicle Emergency Contact Locator Act is important to drivers and emergency medical care providers. The fact that this law can assist doctors by allowing them to have timely access to family members and to obtain additional information such as the victim’s medical records and medical directives will save lives.”

“The agony of not knowing if a missing relative is injured, or alive or dead cannot be overstated. This bill will go a long way to addressing this heart wrenching issue,” said Senator Curren D. Price, Jr.

CONTACT: Sandra Kramer, 916.319.2036

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