Brooks’ bill would create nationwide non-emergency mobile number

U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN) has proposed a bipartisan bill that would establish one nationwide number mobile users could call with serious safety assistance requests that didn’t require crisis responses.

The National Non-Emergency Mobile Number Act, H.R. 5700, which Rep. Brooks introduced on May 8 with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), would direct the Federal Communications Commission to designate a national dialing short code for mobile voice users to reach public safety personnel in critical, but non-emergency circumstances, according to a congressional record summary.

“When people are traveling from state to state, the short non-emergency number people call to report an incident deserving of attention but may not classify as an emergency varies across state lines,” Rep. Brooks said. “Designating a code for this specific use promotes a more cohesive and effective public-safety response.”

Currently, according to a statement from the congresswoman’s office, at least 18 different wireless short codes operate across 29 states. Establishing a unified wireless non-emergency number would help consolidate these multiple numbers, reduce traveler confusion and hasten highway safety patrol response times, according to the statement.

“This common sense, bipartisan bill ensures our 911 telecommunicators can focus on responding quickly and efficiently to phone calls reporting time-sensitive and urgent emergency matters,” said Rep. Brooks.

At the same time, she said, H.R. 5700 would simplify how travelers in the United States contact public safety officials when reporting non-emergency situations, such as a broken-down vehicle, for instance, a flat tire, or reporting highway damage. A separate, unified number, the congresswoman said, would enable “our 911 telecommunicators to focus on helping people who are dealing with an emergency.”

Rep. Eshoo called H.R. 5700 “straightforward legislation” that could “save the lives of those in danger.”

“In an interconnected nation, it is essential that we have a streamlined communication system across all states,” added Rep. Eshoo.

H.R. 5700 has been referred to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.