Crash Responder Safety Week emphasizes drivers’ responsibility to keep workers safe

Release date: November 13, 2023

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) urges drivers to put safety first when you see flashing lights on the side of the road. Governor Tony Evers proclaimed November 13-17, 2023 as Crash Responder Safety Week to remind Wisconsinites to help protect the people out working to help motorists after a crash.

There are more than 132,000 crashes in Wisconsin every year. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS crews and tow truck drivers are often the first to respond to help.

“Every driver can have a substantial impact on the safety of our crash responders who put themselves at risk each time they respond to an incident. These workers are someone's loved one – a mother, father, sibling or neighbor. Please, give them space and slow down so everyone can get home safely," WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said.

Last year, 326 on duty workers were hurt and five were killed in crashes across Wisconsin. Those incidents often occur when crews are responding to a crash or other highway incident.

To keep responders safe:

  • Eliminate distractions and pay close attention to the road ahead.
  • Move over or slow down if you see an emergency vehicle's flashing lights. It's required by law.
  • Put the phone down. State law bans the use of handheld cell phones when passing through an emergency response area, which is defined as 500 feet surrounding an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
  • If you can “Steer It, Clear It". If your car is drivable and there are no injuries, you should move your car to the shoulder or nearby safe place off the road before calling 911. This will help keep traffic flowing and keep you, responders and other drivers safe.
  • Plan ahead. Know before you go with for updates on road conditions and incidents.

“Crash responders have a significant responsibility out on the roads. We ask drivers to respect that and recognize crews are working to keep everyone safe on the highways. Move over to create a safety zone for crash responders and save lives," Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tim Carnahan said.

The Wisconsin State Patrol's November Law of the Month: Move Over or Slow Down coincides with Crash Responder Safety Week to help drivers understand the laws that protect first responders.

First responders train regularly to ensure their crash response is as safe as possible. Wisconsin is a national leader in Traffic Incident Management (TIM) training, which provides consistent training on crash scene management. The training focuses on safety and effectiveness in managing roadside incidents, while standardizing operations and communication across agencies. More than half of Wisconsin's nearly 40,000 responders have received TIM training. WisDOT is committed to expanding TIM training to more first responders across the state.

Timely and proactive roadside assistance can make a major difference for highway safety. Wisconsin is among a number of states that organizes highway safety patrol operations to clear traffic incidents, move disabled vehicles and manage other traffic hazards.

  • WisDOT's Safety Patrols, sponsored by GEICO, work in partnership with towing companies and law enforcement to clear crashes, break downs, and roadway debris in work zones and high-congestion corridors. It is a free service offered in select coverage areas statewide, including Brown, Milwaukee and Outagamie counties.
  • The Dane County Sheriff's Office Freeway Service Team (FST) program is staffed with uniformed officers who work in close cooperation with towing and recovery contractors. The FST patrols US 12/18 (Beltline) from I-39/90 to Old Sauk Road in Madison from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The FST also assists with operation of the Flex Lane in Madison.

This year's awareness efforts include message boards on Wisconsin highways, a WisDOT social media campaign, and an interactive quiz on the Move Over Law. The lighting of the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee will also recognize Crash Responder Safety Week.

Visit to learn more safe driving tips.

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581,