Federal Regulation: Media Must Wear Safety Vests on Highways

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Washington - Oct 2, 2008 - The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued new requirements for workers on federal-aid highways that appear to require the media to wear high visibility safety vests when covering incidents on public highways, according to a memo received by Radio magazine from the Indiana Association of Broadcasters. The regulations, which take effect on Nov. 24, 2008, seek to increase visibility and ultimately the safety of roadside workers by requiring the use of high-visibility apparel.

The memo highlights one portion of the regulation: "All workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel."

The term "workers" includes "responders to incidents," and in the explanatory notes to the regulation the FHWA takes the position that this includes media representatives when covering events on highways. The regulations can be found at 23 C.F.R. ยง634.

Because most public roads are constructed and maintained using federal funds, they are covered by the FHWA regulations. Members of the media responding to accidents or incidents on public roads should wear compliant, high visibility apparel beginning in November. The regulation specifies ANSI/ISEA 107 Class 2 or 3 high-visibility apparel, such as a vest. The Indiana memo suggests that workers should purchase lime-colored vests instead of orange or yellow so motorists can more easily differentiate them from other items on the roads, such as cones and signs.

The International Safety Equipment Association maintains a list of manufacturers that produce high-visibility apparel compliant with the new federal regulations.

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