The state’s Senate unanimously approved a bill March 2
intended to make Missouri’s roadways safer. The bill now heads to the House for
Sponsored by Sen. Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, the highway
safety bill initially dealt solely with increasing the existing penalty for
drivers who fail to move over for emergency vehicles.
Provisions added to the bill would include protections for
workers in construction zones.
The bill – SB872 – stiffens penalties for drivers who fail
to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles
that are parked by the road with their lights flashing and for failure to pull
over and make way for oncoming emergency vehicles.
On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce
speed before passing the emergency vehicles.
Violators would face up to a year in jail and/or as much as
a $1,000 fine.
Gibbons said he sought the protections in the legislation
because four state troopers have been killed while working traffic in the past
“Highway patrolmen and emergency responders work everyday to
save lives. We need to do what we can to save theirs,” Gibbons said in a
The bill also would increase a number of penalties for
people who drive recklessly through work zones.
Scott Stotlemeyer, a Missouri Department of Transportation
technical support engineer, recently said 28 people were killed in work zones
in 2004. He blamed careless driving for most of the accidents.
Under the bill, anyone found speeding or passing illegally
in a work zone when workers are present would face a $1,000 fine with eight
points added to their driver’s license.
Existing Missouri law fines violators $250 for speeding in
Failing to stop when directed by a worker or intentionally
striking construction barrels also could result in the hefty penalties.
One other provision in the bill is intended to increase
safety at intersections in the state. It would stiffen the penalty for failure
to yield the right of way if someone is injured or killed as a result.
State law now calls for offenders to complete 25 hours of
community service and pay a $25 fine and court costs.
The bill would increase the penalty by allowing a 30-day
license suspension and additional fines up to $200.