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Bill aims to protect first responders

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LA CROSSE, WIS. (WXOW) - Wisconsin lawmakers are moving forward on a bill to toughen the penalties for traffic violations when emergency crews are working.

It's all part of an effort to reinforce the state's Move Over Law.

The hope is that an increase in fines will make drivers more alert. If passed, this new law would mirror rules that are already in place for construction zones.

The Move Over Law makes sure drivers provide room for stopped law enforcement, emergency, and maintenance vehicles.

Shifting lanes or slowing down provides a safety zone. First responders say that it just takes a couple of seconds of not paying attention before you could hurt or kill someone.

"When we pull over on the scene, we put our scene lights on, we put our emergency lights on so that we are high visibility both day and night, but all it takes is just a few seconds on inattention and we can seriously be injured," said Operations Manager of Tri-State Ambulance Kent Stein.

According to the Wisconsin DOT, because of drivers who do not move over, car crashes kill more law enforcement officers on duty than any other cause.

Under the new proposal, fines would double for speeding, reckless driving and other traffic violations when emergency personnel are present.

Fines start at $249.

Declan Levy

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