Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law two bills that are intended to make Louisiana roadways safer when emergency personnel or highway workers are present.
One new law, previously SB657, would mandate a practice followed by professional truckers for decades. The rule is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.
All drivers now are required, when practical, to merge into a lane further away from stationary emergency vehicles that are by the road with their lights flashing. If unable to change lanes or driving on two-lane highways, travelers are required to slow to a “safe speed.” Violators would face fines up to $200.
Louisiana law previously called for drivers to slow to a speed of 25 mph or the posted speed, whichever is lower, upon approach.
Also included in the new law is a provision that is intended to keep roadsides clear. It authorizes the towing of vehicles within 24 hours.
Previously, towing could only be done 48 hours after a notice was posted on the windshield. In addition, municipalities and parishes could only tow vehicles 10 days after registered or certified letters were sent. The new law also removes that restriction.
Another provision in the new law requires the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the State Police to partner with the Louisiana Motor Transport Association and others to run an “instant tow” pilot program for the removal of commercial and personal vehicles.
The pilot programs will be set up in two areas of the state with “high density” interstate traffic.
It is intended to reduce congestion and provide for more effective response times, as well as “efficiently preserving commercial goods.”
The second bill signed into law – HB1151 – doubles fines for motorists caught driving in excess of the speed limit while in construction zones where highway workers are present. It takes effect Aug. 15.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor