You’ve probably never heard of a license plate that can save lives, but a new law sponsored by Sen. Edward J. O’Neill (I-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield) may do just that.
Last month, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed a bill (2014-S 2120A) into law that requires owners of electric-powered vehicles to obtain special license plates so that first responders and emergency crew members don’t accidentally electrocute themselves while using jaws of life to extricate passengers from wreckage.
“It is not very well-known that rescue workers can get electrocuted from using jaws of life on an electric vehicle, but when that information came to light I wanted us to be proactive about the issue,” Senator O’Neill said. “I received a lot of input from North Smithfield Town Planner Robert Ericson, Lime Rock Fire Chief Frank Sylvester and the state fire marshal’s office when I drafted this legislation. What is happening out there is our police, fire and rescue workers, along with tow truck operators, sometimes get to a scene of an accident and don’t know whether they’re dealing with an electric or hybrid vehicle. The legislation allows first responders to determine what instrument is appropriate to use for the rescue of those trapped inside electric vehicles quickly simply by looking at the license plate. House Minority Leader Brian Newberry played a crucial role in gathering bi-partisan support for this legislation, and I’d like to thank him and everyone involved for supporting this measure.”
The special registration plate will apply to hybrids in addition to electric vehicles. Senators Marc A. Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield), Nicholas D. Kettle (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster,Scituate, West Greenwich) and James E. Doyle II (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) cosponsored the legislation.