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Legislator seeks tougher ‘move over’ law on Kansas roadways

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 4:05 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 11:13 p.m.

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After this week’s collision on the Kansas Turnpike that critically injured a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper, a state legislator from Haysville wants to toughen the state’s “move over” law.

A 23-year-old Haysville man crashed into the back of the trooper’s patrol car stopped on the shoulder of the turnpike in east Wichita on Tuesday night. The force of the collision pushed the patrol car into the back of the semi Trooper Da’Von Brame had pulled over to inspect.

Rep. Joe Edwards, R-Haysville, said the current $190 fine for failing to move over for law enforcement officers, tow truck drivers and highway construction workers is not enough of a penalty.

“We’ve got to get this law changed where the penalty is not just a slap on the wrist,” he said.

Should he win re-election to the Legislature this fall, Edwards said, stiffer penalties for not moving over will be “one of the first things I fight for” when he returns to Topeka.

Edwards said he will consider legislation that resembles Missouri’s law. That law, he said, quadruples the penalty if the driver’s vehicle hits a law enforcement officer, emergency responder, tow truck operator or Missouri Department of Transportation worker.

If that person is killed, the driver is fined $10,000, loses their license for a year and spends a year in jail.

Edwards proposed a bill in the last legislative session that would have increased the fine for failure to move over to $400, but the bill died in the Transportation Committee.

“We didn’t have time” to get it before the full Legislature, Edwards said.

Brame was in fair condition Thursday at Wesley Medical Center, and officials say he’s fortunate to be alive after his car was apparently hit at highway speed – which, on the turnpike, is 75 mph. The driver told investigators that he drifted off the turnpike after he sneezed.

No citations have been issued, but Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. John Lehnherr said the investigation is continuing.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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