Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Next of Kin Registry System

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about an new process available in Ohio that allows you to register with your driver's license, the next of kin. Ohio is one of the first states to offer it. Any holder of a valid Ohio driver license or identification card can now decide to register up to two people for law enforcement to contact in the event the individual is involved in a crash or emergency and is otherwise unable to communicate with the contact person. Registration can be completed on-line or during the license application/renewal process.

How would law enforcement find your loved ones if you were in an accident? The only information first responders have to identify you is the address on your drivers license. Is someone always home at the address on your drivers license? If not, the police then must begin a time intensive search to find your loved ones.

The Next of Kin Notification Bill was made possible through the support of a woman and her sister who had both lost children in accidents. When the one woman lost her child in an accident, it took the police 7 hours to notify her, not due to a lack of trying. The child lived alone, so when they went to the address on file, there was no one there. Eventually, they found a neighbor with a key to the house, found the child's cell phone, called the last number dialed and that was a co-worker who contacted a supervisor to get the contact information so the police could contact the mother. The idea came to the mother, shortly after the loss of her child. The sisters contacted their State Representative about the idea for the registry and the bill was signed on May 1 and went into effect September 8th.

The police report, that young people can be the hardest to locate the next of kin for contact, because they typically live on their own and because they are just getting established, often have a number of addresses on file in various locations.

If you live in Ohio, head over to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to learn more and register your next of kin information. If you don't live in Ohio, find out if your state offers a similar program and if not, contact your representative.