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Should Governor's Car Be Emergency Response Vehicle?

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The State Department of Motor Vehicles has adopted a new rule which would allow the following state officials to designate their vehicles, complete with red and white lights, as emergency vehicles: The head of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services as well as the heads of the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation. Also, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary to the Governor, and Director of State Operations.

"I think it's ridiculous. Number one the Governor has the State Police to haul him around. And if the Lieutenant Governor wants a ride they can get the State Police, too," said Broome County Sheriff David Harder (R).

The new rule states it would assist leaders in expeditiously responding to emergencies and do away with the need for a police escort when doing so.

"I can see their point of view that they want to look like they're ready to respond if something serious happens. But what are they going to do when they get there?" asked Endicott Fire Chief Joseph Griswold.

One issue is that first responders say it's not as simple as putting a light on your car and driving. Both Harder and Griswold say their personnel go through week-long training on emergency vehicle driving.

"There's high-speed chases, there's making it around sharp corners, how to back up so that if they get into a situation they can back out of it," said Harder.

"You still have to obey the traffic laws. We stop at every intersection, red lights or stop signs. We have to make the intersection is clear. Just because you have red lights and sirens if you hit somebody you're responsible for that," said Griswold.

The new rule will be in effect for 90 days. The DMV will accept public comment for the next 45 days, after which it can make the rule permanent.