Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill into law June 29 intended to make Missouri’s roadways safer.
The new law, previously 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 are required to reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles.
Violators will face up to a year in jail and/or as much as a $1,000 fine.
Sen. Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, 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 new law also increases a number of penalties for people who drive recklessly through work zones.
Scott Stotlemeyer, a Missouri Department of Transportation technical support engineer, said 28 people were killed in work zones in 2004. He blamed careless driving for most of the deaths.
Anyone found speeding or passing illegally in a work zone when workers are present will 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.
Failure to stop when directed by a worker or intentionally striking construction barrels also could result in hefty penalties.