States take steps to increase safety along roadsides

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, July 01, 2013

Safety bills up for consideration at statehouses cover buffer zones for emergency personnel along roadsides.

In New York, a bill on its way to the governor’s desk is intended to protect people working near the road. The Assembly voted to sign off on Senate action to a bill that would revise the state’s “Move Over” law to include more emergency personnel.

Since Jan. 1, 2011, New York requires drivers traveling on multilane roadways to move away from the lane closest to any emergency vehicle on the side of the road with red and/or white flashing lights. Drivers are also required to slow down.

S2318 would expand the coverage to include all flashing emergency lights. In particular, the rule would apply to red, blue, white and/or amber lights.

In nearby Ohio, a bill making its way through the House would expand the types of vehicles covered under the state’s existing rule. Drivers in the state already are required to make room for police, ambulance, fire and road service vehicles.

HB172 would include highway maintenance vehicles in the protected list, such as snow plows, road sweepers and mowing machines.

A new law in Missouri increases penalties for dangerous driving in an “emergency zone.”

Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill into law that authorizes $35 fines, in addition to any other fine, for traffic violations committed near emergency scenes. The affected areas include those marked by emergency responders on or near the roadway.

SB282 authorizes $250 fines for anyone caught speeding or passing in an emergency zone, plus any existing penalties. It takes effect Aug. 28.

The new law also creates an offense of endangering an emergency responder if, when a worker is present, offenders are caught exceeding the posted limit by at least 15 mph, passing another vehicle, and driving in any lane off limits for travelers in the affected area.

Offenders would face fines up to $1,000. If injury or death results, fines increase to as much as $5,000 and $10,000, respectively.

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