Nebraska laws ease up on work zone speeders; mandate ‘move over’ rule

| 6/10/2009

Lead-footed drivers in Nebraska have less reason to ease off the accelerator in construction zones where no one is working.

A new law now in effect cuts in half the fine for speeders caught in construction zones where workers are not present. The fines are the same as those applied for speeding outside of work zones.

Previously, speeders were required to pay double in construction zones regardless of whether work was taking place.

Supporters of the change said it’s unnecessary to slow down when workers aren’t around.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Rodney Upton of Lincoln, NE, doesn’t agree. He said it’s dangerous to rely on drivers to know whether work is being done.

Upton also said reverting to regular fines in work zones sends a bad message.

“I don’t think they’re much of a deterrent because people still do way too many excessive speeds going through construction zones whether there are people present or not,” Upton told Land Line.

The penalty for driving 1 to 5 mph over the speed limit could net violators a $10 fine. Driving 6 to 10 mph over the limit could cost speeders $25. Speeding 11 to 15 mph over the limit could result in $75 fines. Driving in excess of 16 to 20 mph over the limit could net offenders a $125 fine. Speeding in excess of 21 mph over the limit could cost drivers $200, while driving 35 mph over the limit could be a $300 fine.

Also signed into law is a bill ending Nebraska’s distinction as being one of the few remaining holdouts from states that require drivers to make room for emergency workers and law enforcement officers. The new rule takes effect in early September.

Drivers soon will be required to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency crews, law enforcement, roadside assistance vehicles or tow trucks parked by the road with lights flashing.

The “Move Over” initiative applies to highways with at least two lanes of traffic in the same direction. It is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

Upton said it’s unfortunate that a common courtesy needs to be legislated, but many motorists simply don’t take into consideration the practice of moving over for vehicles on the shoulder.

“Nine out of 10 times I’ll have some four-wheeler pass me on the right flipping me off because I went to the left lane to give a little bit of courtesy to a broke down vehicle or what not,” Upton said. “People don’t care. They’re in too big of a hurry.”

Failure to obey the rule would result in fines up to $100. Repeat offenders would face fines up to $500 and seven days in jail.

Exceptions will be made when traffic, road or weather conditions prevent drivers from moving over.

Before the rule takes effect, signs will be posted alerting drivers of the new law. A fiscal note on the bill indicates that 41 signs will be required at a total cost estimated to be $86,000.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nebraska in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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