JEFFERSON CITY - Highway Patrol officials told KOMU 8 News Friday penalties will increase for drivers who commit driving violations in emergency zones.
Capt. Tim Hull, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Public Information and Education Division, said the law was created "to protect those emergency workers who are working along the highway."
The new rules make it illegal to pass in an emergency zone, defined as anywhere emergency responders are working. It also increases penalties for existing traffic violations. Missouri drivers say they are receptive to the new law. "We have to make sure we take care of our safety people" said Rhonda Mueller.
The new legislation says a person endangers an emergency responder if he or she:
- Exceeds the posted speed limit by 15 mph or more;
- Passes another vehicle;
- Fails to stop for a flagman ,an emergency responder, or a traffic control signal in the active emergency zone;
- Drives through or around an active emergency zone via any lane that is not for motorists;
- Physically assaults, threatens or attempts to assault an emergency responder with a motor vehicle or other instrument; or
- Intentionally strikes or moves barrels, barriers, signals or other devices for a reason other than to avoid an obstacle, emergency or to protect the health and safety of another person.
If an emergency responder is not hurt or killed, the driver will receive a fine of up to $1,000 in addition to general traffic fines. If an emergency responder is injured, the driver will pay up to $5,000 in fines. Drivers who kill an emergency responder will pay up to a $10,000 fine.
The rules take effect on August 28.