Celebrating the Automobile Club of Southern California’s decades-long relationship with the California Highway Patrol, and to increase public awareness of the state’s Move Over law, the Auto Club-sponsored Chevy Camaro Nitro Funny Car fielded by John Force Racing and driven by Robert Hight will sport a special livery featuring the black and white colors of the CHP at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals February 10-12 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, the debut event of the 2017 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series. The new livery will be unveiled during the NHRA press conference, Wed., Feb. 8 at the Auto Club Raceway. Photos will be available following the unveiling.
The special livery is also helping kick off the National Hot Rod Association’s program, “NHRA Salutes First Responders”, during which the NHRA will honor members of local police, fire, medical and recovery services at each event during the 2017 NHRA racing season.
The Move Over law, passed in 2007 and amended in 2009 to include tow trucks and construction vehicles, requires drivers to move over a lane to the left when safe to do so and/or slow down if they see a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights.
“If you’ve driven on a California freeway, you’ve seen the message on illuminated signs all over the Southland: ‘Move Over or Slow for Workers. It’s the Law,’” said Kathy Sieck, Auto Club Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Publications. “California, like every state in the union, has a move-over law designed to protect first responders, and these laws can literally be life-saving. We want to make California drivers more aware of their responsibility so we can keep our roads safe and help protect those who protect us.”
“I am honored to be driving the Auto Club/CHP Chevrolet Camaro SS to kick off the 2017 NHRA season,” Robert Hight said. “This car makes sense on so many levels. First, this car helps kick off the NHRA’s Salutes First Responders program. And second, the Auto Club and the CHP are very close partners in keeping the California highways safe for all of the motorists. My race team is very excited after our testing in Phoenix and will be very motivated to get this car in the winner’s circle.”
“The California Highway Patrol is honored to continue our partnership with the Auto Club of Southern California on this important and on-going safety awareness campaign,” said Sgt. Jose Nunez, CHP. “Special events such as NHRA racing also continue to be a fantastic place for our Officers to interact and educate race fans from all walks of life. The Move Over, Slow Down law can mean the difference between life and death. It only takes a split second of inattention to destroy the lives of many people.”
The Auto Club has sponsored a John Force Racing Funny Car since 2001 and currently sponsors Robert Hight on the John Force Racing Team. Periodically, John Force Racing will create a unique Funny Car design to honor organizations, individuals or events. For example, the race team has recognized Ronald McDonald House, Breast Cancer Awareness month and the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), making a traffic or emergency stop on the side of the road is one of the most dangerous duties law-enforcement officers perform.
Since 1999, more than 150 law-enforcement personnel have been killed and thousands more injured from being hit by passing vehicles, according to Move Over America, an organization dedicated to protecting law enforcement and emergency responders. In addition, about 60 tow-truck drivers are killed each year in these kinds of incidents, according to American Towman, an industry publication. Also, 185 California Department of Transportation employees have been killed on the job since 1924. One of the biggest hazards is from motorists who do not exercise caution while driving where highway workers are present.
The California Highway Patrol and the Automobile Club of Southern California share a common mission – keeping California roads safe for motorists, added Sieck of the Auto Club. “The histories of these two organizations have been intertwined since the CHP was founded in 1929.”
In 1924, the Auto Club had established its own Highway Patrol Service to aid stranded motorists, repair street signs, sweep up broken glass, and assist with car theft recovery. In 1929, the state established the California Highway Patrol and made it a division of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Auto Club agreed that the term “highway patrol” was appropriate for the new agency and relinquished the name. This act marked the beginning of cooperative efforts between the two organizations. Since then, the Auto Club and CHP have worked together to reduce auto theft, improve driver safety for teens and all motorists, and update the state’s vehicle code when needed.