Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/02/2004 03:50 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                HB 438-MOVE OVER LAW FOR DRIVERS                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MATTHEW  RUDIG, staff to  Representative Holm, sponsor  of HB
438,  told members  that moving  over and  slowing down  can save                                                               
lives.  It is  very dangerous  for law  enforcement officers  and                                                               
emergency  personnel to  work alongside  a roadway.  According to                                                               
the National Law Enforcement Officers  Memorial Fund report, from                                                               
1997 through  2002, 93 law  enforcement officers were  struck and                                                               
killed  nationwide  along  the  roadside.  Many  more  have  been                                                               
injured and many have had close  calls. No measure of "move over"                                                               
legislation  will  guarantee  officers  and  emergency  personnel                                                               
complete safety,  however this bill and  further public education                                                               
efforts will  heighten driver awareness  of the  inherent dangers                                                               
of  officers   and  emergency  personnel.  Establishing   such  a                                                               
requirement  in  statute  will   encourage  the  public  to  take                                                               
precautions when  passing emergency  vehicles along  the roadside                                                               
with emergency lights flashing.  Thirty other states have enacted                                                               
similar  legislation.  Testimonials  given by  several  Fairbanks                                                               
police officers  are included in members'  packets that expressed                                                               
a need for such legislation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   THERRIAULT  asked   if  this   legislation  essentially                                                               
requires drivers  to slow  down to  20 mph and  move over  to the                                                               
lane  furthest away  if  an emergency  vehicle  is alongside  the                                                               
road. He pointed out that he  was referring to information on the                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. RUDIG said  that language was in the original  version of the                                                               
bill  but was  amended by  the House  Judiciary and  Senate State                                                               
Affairs Committees. The new language in those versions reads:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Unless  otherwise   directed  by  law   enforcement  or                                                                    
     emergency  personnel, shall  slow to  a reasonable  and                                                                    
     prudent  speed  considering  the  traffic  roadway  and                                                                    
     weather conditions.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  noted the bill in  its present form has  no stated                                                               
speed limit in these instances.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. RUDIG agreed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  OGAN  said   he  fully  supports  the   intent  of  this                                                               
legislation but asked  if this bill simply clarifies  the law and                                                               
creates a  class A  misdemeanor if personal  injury results  if a                                                               
person does not follow the law.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. RUDIG said that is correct but that the offense could be                                                                    
written as a violation as well.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS noted it would be an infraction if no personal                                                                    
injury resulted.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said this only applies to stationary                                                                         
emergency vehicles, not vehicles en route.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. RUDIG clarified that is the intent of the sponsor.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OGAN moved SCS CSHB 438(STA) from committee with                                                                        
individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The motion carried with Senators Ogan, Therriault and Seekins in                                                                
favor.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
With no further business to come before the committee, CHAIR                                                                    
SEEKINS adjourned the meeting at 5:08 p.m.                                                                                      

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