Trying to stay safe while traveling Arizona’s highways is crucial, but being kept up-to-date on emergency alert information could potentially allow you to assist in the speedy apprehension of a violent criminal who killed or seriously injured local, state or federal law enforcement officers, or find a missing senior citizen.
Overhead message boards – electronic signs suspended above rushing traffic and provided by Arizona’s Department of Transportation (ADOT) – can help you do just that.
In addition to pertinent commute times, travel alerts and safety messages, the digital signs will also inform drivers of Blue and Silver Alerts. Similar to AMBER Alerts (for missing children), Blue and Silver Alerts are issued by law enforcement officials, who are seeking the public’s help.
Silver Alerts will be issued following the report of a missing person who is 65 or older, whereas, Blue Alerts will be issued following an attack on a law enforcement officer if the suspect has fled the scene of the offense according to ADOT. Several other conditions must be met before either of these alerts are issued. These are discussed in further detail below.
While these alert systems may not be new, we felt the need to reiterate their importance, especially given the fact that many drivers, like myself, may not be aware of these specific alert messages or how to appropriately respond. These alerts were initiated based on the overwhelmingly positive results of the AMBER Alert.
For a Silver Alert, the message will read “Silver Alert – Dial 511 For More Info.” If available, vehicle information will also be displayed. Again, these alerts are only issued for missing persons 65 years of age or older, and who is believed to be in danger because of health issues or a mental or physical disability. A Silver Alert can also be issued if the circumstances of the missing person are considered suspect.
For a Blue Alert, the message board will read “Blue Alert/License Plant #/Vehicle Description,” followed by a second rotating message “Dial 511 For More Info.” These alerts are issued following an attack on a law enforcement officer if the suspect has fled the scene of the offense. The suspect must also be deemed a threat to the public or other law enforcement officers by law enforcement officials.
Message boards are used regionally, not statewide, and will also display the appropriate message until the person is found or a time limit of three hours has been reached.
When you are traveling on Arizona’s busy highways, make sure to buckle-up, and stay alert 100% of the time. And if you notice a Blue or Silver Alert message, keep in mind the difference you can make on assisting our community’s most important public servants, or most vulnerable citizens.