For first responders and road workers, being stationed on Montana roadways has always held significant risk of an auto accident. Drivers speed past; they are distracted; some are under the influence; and many simply do not account for the safety of those simply trying to do their jobs.
Drivers are encouraged to “slow down and move over” to account for workers who may be performing repairs, improvements and maintenance as well as first responders who are there for emergency situations. Many drivers ignore it. Now, there is a new bill to enforce the law.
“Yield-Move Over-Slow Down” law would give drivers rules to follow
As proposed, the “Yield-Move Over-Slow Down” law intends to put specific rules in effect for when drivers pass road workers and first responders. It would include a temporary speed limit.
While on the interstate, if there is no temporary speed limit, drivers will need to reduce their speed by 20 miles per hour from the posted speed limit. They are also expected to move over. If that is impossible, they must drive at one-half the posted speed limit.
For the state highway or on a rural road, they must reduce their speed by 30 mph below the posted speed limit if they can change lanes. If they cannot change lanes, it must be half the speed limit.
The problem stems from a 2021 change where there were no longer speeds listed in the move-over law. This hindered law enforcement’s attempts to enforce it due to a lack of certainty as to the standards. Many cases were thrown out of court. If the proposed bill passes, drivers will be sited and fined $100 to $500, receive 90 days in jail or both.
Road workers and emergency responders should have help after an auto accident
People who are simply trying to do their jobs can suffer serious injuries and death if they are on the side of a roadway and drivers simply ignore the basics of safety and cause auto accidents. There are laws already in place to address this, but they are often treated as if they do not exist.
Even if this bill passes, the problem is likely to persist. Injuries can result in massive medical expenses, the inability to work and more. Even if the worker recovers reasonably well, they might not be able to do the same job they did previously. The financial, emotional and personal ramifications are magnified if there is a fatality. Gathering evidence and pursuing compensation generally requires help. Consulting with experienced professionals can be key with negotiating a settlement or moving forward with a case in court.