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Local push for stricter "Slow Down, Move Over" law after death of West firefighter

AAA reports 24 emergency responders are killed while doing roadside assistance every year.
Credit: AAA

TEMPLE, Texas — Texas legislators are pushing to strengthen the 'Slow Down, Move Over' Texas law though House Bill 898.

After the recent death of a West Volunteer Firefighter, local law enforcement are endorsing the bill.

"The community of West lost their fireman and we nearly lost two troopers in that crash and those things hit home," Texas DPS spokesperson Sgt. Bryan Washko said. "We even lost a Temple trooper in 2017  because someone didn't move over and slow down. After 43 years of service, he lost his life at the very end of his career."

The 'Move Over, Slow Down' was enacted in 2003. The law requires drivers to pull over and reduce their speed when emergency vehicles and tow trucks are on the side of the road.

"There are 24 roadside rescue workers and emergency responders who are killed every year at the roadside doing their job. This law is supposed to protect  first responders whether it's fireman, police, tow truck drivers, or utility workers," AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster shared. 

But when someone fails to abide by the law, the result would hit harder than it does now if Texas legislators pass the law enforcer.

If the new bill were to pass, fines for breaking the law would increase from $200 to over $500. It can even reach up to $2,000 if a worker is injured and courts could even suspend a person's drivers license.

Still, driving safe as a whole will always be important. The goal is to ensure everyone stays safe on the roads and no additional injuries happen to anyone.

"Slow down, buckle up, and drive sober. That's 365 days a year, no matter what the holiday is. Also, put those phones down and limit those distractions when you're out there driving," Washko mentioned.

If this bill passes, it is expected to take effect in September of this year.

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