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Lawmakers Consider Tougher Penalties for Drivers Who Ignore Emergency Vehicles

Since 2002, four state troopers have been killed while working near traffic. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties for drivers who fail to move over when they approach an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Corporal Jay Sampietro died August 17th of last year when a vehicle struck him on Interstate 44 near Strafford.

His widow, Jennifer testified in favor of legislation that would increase the penalties for drivers who fail to move over when they come upon a parked emergency vehicle, like a highway patrol car.

Jennifer Sampietro sat before the Senate Transportation committee with Cheryl Floyd, the widow of a trooper who also died while working near traffic.

C and I...That's careless and imprudent driving. That's a class B traffic misdemeanor.

The bill before the Senate committee would toughen penalties only on those drivers who fail to move over or slow down.

Cheryl Floyd told the committee that the law should not give drivers the option of slowing down and should require them to move over.

The bill sponsor is Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons.

He says he hopes that increasing penalties for failing to move over or slow down will prevent future deaths along Missouri roadways.

At the hearing on the bill, the Missouri State Troopers Association spoke in favor of it, as did the trucking industry's lobbyist and a lobbyist for firefighters.

No one spoke against the measure.

The bill must gain approval committee approval before it can advance to the floor.