Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi said he hopes the new law will remind drivers to exercise caution when they see emergency lights ahead " not just because it's the law, but because it's the responsible thing to do.
"This law really addresses the most dangerous environments that are faced by law enforcement," he said. "It's really a common sense law."
Bethlehem has not had any officers struck by passing vehicles, but there have been incidents.
"We have had patrol cars rear ended by people who for one reason or another were not paying attention," Corsi said. "The potential for catastrophe exists, not just here in Bethlehem but everywhere."
The Colonie Police Department, like Bethlehem, reported several incidents of patrol cars being struck, but also an incident where an officer was struck by a vehicle and injured badly enough to have to take disability.
Under the new law, motorists must reduce speed and use caution when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights activated. On roadways with multiple lanes, drivers must also move from the lane adjacent from the emergency vehicle unless traffic or other conditions make it unsafe to do so.
Violators of the new law can face a fine of up to $275 and two points on their license.