WIS. (WLAX/WEUX) – A bill making its way through the Wisconsin legislature would mean stricter rules on the road. The bill would increase fines and potential jail time for people who hit a first responder working at a crash site. It would also ban the use of handheld devices, such as cell phones In that area. First news at nine’s Max Cotton shares details on the proposal.
State representative Jesse James is the former Altoona Police Chief. He says his experience on the streets is why he’s supporting legislation cracking down on drivers who don’t slow down near crash sites.
“It is scary out there, extreme scariness out there. It’s like fear factor. We’ve heard testimony that people would rather go inside a burning building than responding to an accident scene along our highways.”
Wisconsin State Trooper Dave Arras has seen plenty of cars zoom right by him on the highway.
“If you’re sitting on the side of the road and someone’s going by you at highway speed, you definitely feel your car rock and you can feel all that energy going by you. You can just imagine if that hits you.”
These dangerous situations led to state representative Amy Loudenbeck sponsoring the bill.
She says while it probably won’t affect drivers who already slow down, move over and focus on the road when they see flashing lights, It will give first responders more tools to ensure everyone drives safely.
“The bill creates what’s called an ’emergency response zone’ where under the bill, responders could slow down the speed of traffic and any distracted drivers or reckless driving would be subject to increased penalties.”
And while the proposal creates new rules about phone use and other distractive behaviors, Trooper Arras says the most important thing is slowing down near emergency personnel.
“It’ll happen real quick. At highway speeds, the reaction time when you see something or someone’s coming out, you won’t have much reaction time and someone will unfortunately get hurt or worse and that’s what we don’t want to see.”
Current state law only requires drivers move over and slow down.
In Eau Claire, Max cotton, First News At Nine.