Medical alert: New Jersey governor vetoes vehicle decal program

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/29/2013

Gov. Chris Christie says he likes a program that provides emergency responders with access to critical medical information in the moments following vehicle wrecks, but he says he doesn’t want New Jersey residents to be handed the bill.

The governor conditionally vetoed a bill to set up a yellow dot decal program to help ensure proper medical treatment in situations where wreck victims may not be able to speak or are otherwise unresponsive.

Similar opt-in programs are available in more than a half dozen states, including Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. Other states have bills introduced to adopt their own voluntary program.

Christie said in his conditional veto message the state shouldn’t be involved. Instead, he encourages local governments to set up programs. The governor referred to a local program running in Mount Laurel, NJ.

“The better approach is to clarify that Yellow Dot programs may be established at the local level,” Christie wrote.

The “New Jersey Yellow Dot” program sought to provide emergency responders with critical health information for drivers who sign up for the program.

Program materials would include a yellow decal for the side window, a health information card, a yellow envelope and program instructions. The state would collect “a nominal fee” to help cover the costs of the program.

Supporters say that the first moments following a serious wreck are crucial, especially when someone has unique medical needs.

“Having a standard notification system – a yellow dot – that alerts first responders to critical medical information about the accident victims can spell the difference between life and death,” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Mercer, said in a recent news release.

The bill – S71 – will be returned to the Legislature for lawmakers to rework the wording to establish local programs.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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