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New law protects Missouri First Responders - KOAM TV 7

New law protects Missouri First Responders

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A new law in Missouri comes at a perfect time for first responders. It all began in Kansas...a law that protects first responders from distracted motorists has now made it's way to Missouri. The labor day holiday weekend is a reminder for drivers to pay attention... Because if you don't...you'll pay an even bigger fine.

When you see the flashing lights...drivers are expected to pull over, but as first responder Ryan Mauersberger knows...not everyone follows the rules.

"Traffic accidents are very dangerous for first responders, not only because of the crash itself, but also because of the motorists passing by the accident that may not be paying attention necessarily to the road, but more to the accident that's going on - causing secondary accidents." Mauersberger says.

A new Missouri law - already present in Kansas and Oklahoma - brings violations for drivers that speed or pass vehicles within an emergency zone when responders are present.

The law as enacted in Missouri to protect emergency responders so they themselves don't end up in the back of an ambulance.

Drivers that speed over 15 miles per hour along highway accident scenes could face new fines up to $1,000...and up to $10,000 if a responder is hurt or killed.

Sergeant Ryan West of the Joplin Police Department says "It helps people to remember the dangers that they face especially when they're going through a temporary zone like that. Which is put up as safely as we can, but it's done fast."

The Missouri Highway Patrol reports 13 fatalities so far in the southwest Missouri area...and 93 for the year. Numbers that could be prevented if drivers paid extra attention.

"Pay attention to flag people, flag persons, pay attention to things like that. That would really really help us, and keep everyone safe and keep them out of trouble." says West.

The labor holiday will be the first test for the law...as it's a busy time for responders.

As a first responder in Kansas, Mauersberger thinks the law is a great idea for Missouri drivers.

"Any measure taken to prevent traffic accidents at emergency scenes is going to be beneficial to not only the people that have been injured, but also to the emergency responders on the scene." he says.

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