A Missouri House panel has
approved a bill intended to make the state’s roadways safer. The bill now heads
to the House floor for consideration.
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.
Among the provisions added to the
bill are protections for workers in construction zones.
The bill – SB872 – would stiffen
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
On two-lane highways, drivers
would be required to reduce speed before passing 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 four years.
“Highway patrolmen and emergency
responders work everyday to save lives. We need to do what we can to save
theirs,” Gibbons said in a written statement.
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 deaths.
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 work zones.
Failing to stop when directed by a
worker or intentionally striking construction barrels also could result in the
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
If approved by the House, it would
head back to the Senate for approval of changes before moving to Gov. Matt