Legislation Signed to Restrict Emergency Vehicles Proceeding Through Red Lights

Governor Bob McDonnell today ceremonially signed SB 762, also known as “Ashley’s Law,” which requires emergency vehicles proceeding through a traffic intersection to flash emergency lights and either sound a siren or horn, or yield the right-of-way, before proceeding.   This law is named in honor of Ashley McIntosh who was tragically killed when her vehicle was struck by an emergency vehicle as it went through an intersection.

The accident occurred in 2008 at the intersection of Route One and Boswell Avenue when Mount Vernon resident Ashley McIntosh drove her car into the intersection on a green light. Upon entering the intersection her vehicle was hit by a police cruiser that was responding to an emergency call. Ashley was killed in the accident.

The police officer who ran into McIntosh’s vehicle went through a red light at high speed without a siren on, and without stopping at the light. The accident became the touchstone for a long legal and political effort by the victims mother, Cindy McIntosh-Colasanto. Her effort came to fruition today with the successful passage of Virginia legislation designed to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

Speaking about “Ashley’s Law,” Governor McDonnell remarked, “It is a sobering moment as I sign this legislation today that results from a tragic traffic accident that took the life of a young Fairfax woman with a bright future.   We are constantly evaluating how we can improve public safety to protect our citizens, law enforcement and first responders.   It is because of the care, concern and activism of Ashley’s family and friends that this change in the law has become a reality, and for that I commend the great work of everyone who advocated for the passage of this bill.   Virginia’s streets are safer because of ‘Ashley’s Law.’”

Senator Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax County), who patroned the legislation, commented, “I am very pleased to have carried ‘Ashley’s Law.’   It took several years to get this passed and I am glad we were finally able to get overwhelming consensus on the bill.   I hope that it will go far to save other lives in the future.”

Fairfax County Police Department Chief of Police Colonel David M. Rohrer, added, “The Fairfax County Police Department supported ‘Ashley’s Law’ because it puts the safety of the public and emergency responders first, as it should be.   I’m pleased to say that our policies and the training our officers receive in emergency and response driving mirror this new law.”

About “Ashley’s Law”:

SB 762 (Puller) – Emergency vehicles; proceeding past red lights
Provides that emergency vehicles proceeding past any steady or flashing red signals, traffic lights, stop signs, or other devices indicating moving traffic shall stop, must flash emergency lights and either (i) sound a siren, exhaust whistle, or air horn designed to give automatically intermittent signals or (ii) yield right-of-way or, if required for safety, bring the vehicle to a complete stop before proceeding with due regard to the safety of persons and property.