Missouri bills for the New Year cover road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/11/2013

Missouri lawmakers are spending the final weeks of the year filing bills for consideration during the upcoming regular session. Bills that address safety on roadways are among the topics getting attention.

Rep. Ron Hicks, R-St. Peters, filed a bill that would increase the penalties and driver license suspensions for failure to yield the right of way when the failure results in the injury or death of another person.

Missouri law authorizes $200 fines for wrecks that result in injury. Offenders’ licenses can also be suspended for 30 days. Wrecks that result in serious injury carry fines of up to $500 and 90-day license suspensions. Failure to yield the right of way incidents that result in the death of another person carries a $1,000 fine and the possibility of a six-month license suspension.

HB1149 would increase fine amounts for wrecks that result in injury to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1,000. Wrecks that result in serious injury would result in fines between $1,000 and $3,000. Fatal wrecks would result in punishment that includes fines between $5,000 and $10,000, loss of driving privileges for up to one year, and completion of a “driver-improvement program.”

Two bills from Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, address road safety.

The first bill is intended to discourage communities from using red-light or speed cameras as revenue generators. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are 32 communities in the state, including Kansas City and St. Louis, with automated ticketing programs.

SB587 would require cities to route all fines from ticket cameras to local school districts for transportation purposes. Typically, the revenue is put into a city’s general fund.

Kraus has said that he wants to make sure the cities are really after safety improvements, and not simply “a backdoor revenue increase.”

The second bill – SB586 – would remove the requirement to have a front license plate on most personal vehicles.

It is estimated that the change could save the state up to $2.5 million annually.

Another bill is intended to encourage drivers and their passengers to buckle up.

Missouri law does not authorize police to pull over vehicles simply for failure to wear a seat belt, but offenders face $10 fines if they are not belted when pulled over for another offense.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, has filed a bill that would increase fines to $50.

All bills can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 8, 2014.

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