A slew of bills in the Mississippi Legislature that were
intended to increase safety on roadways in the state have died.
The bills remained in committee Jan. 30 - the deadline to
advance to their chamber's floor, effectively killing them.
Among the bills that met their demise is an effort that
authorized troopers to ticket drivers who go too slowly in the far left-hand
lane of multilane highways in the state. Sponsored by Rep. Eric Robinson,
R-Quitman, HB517 was intended to prevent slower moving vehicles from blocking
the normal flow of traffic.
The bill didn't specify a fine amount.
Another bill called for the Mississippi Department of
Transportation to expand a stretch of state Route 25. Sponsored by Rep. Clayton
Smith, R-Brandon, the bill - HB978 - required the department to expand to three
lanes in each direction a portion of the highway in Rankin County.
Three separate efforts sought to mandate a practice that is
second nature to most safety-minded truckers and others. The legislation would
have permitted police to ticket drivers who fail to flip on their headlights
during bad weather.
The bills would have required lights to be on "whenever
precipitation necessitates the use of windshield wipers." Violators would have
faced $25 fines.
Two more bills were intended to protect police and other
emergency personnel during roadside stops.
Drivers would have been required to maintain a safe distance
and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles parked by the road with
lights flashing. It would have required drivers to merge into a lane further
away from emergency vehicles. On two-lane highways, drivers would have been
required to reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures,
at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.
The provisions in the bills still could be added to measures
that remain active or they could be reintroduced during the next session that
begins in January 2008.
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor