New law in Mississippi could save the lives of road workers

Photo by Bart Anestin on Unsplash

There is a new law in Mississippi that all motorists should be aware of. While drivers have always been required to slow down for workers at the side of the road, now those working can take additional steps to keep themselves safe. House Bill 580, also known as the blue light bill, allows contractors to hire law enforcement officers to catch violators. Once they do, those caught racing through work zones face serious penalties. Additionally, those whose excessive speed causes death or serious injury to a worker in a work zone can now be held guilty of a felony. 

“This law was unfortunately, necessary,” says Attorney Christopher Van Cleave of Van Cleave Law. “Many drivers simply do not take the necessary care. They do not realize how dangerous it is to speed past workers that are putting their lives on the line by working so close to vehicles speeding past them. Hopefully, this law brings about the change on our roads that is so desperately needed.” 

Accelerated fines are already in place for drivers that speed through work zones. The new law allows even steeper penalties. More importantly, it ensures the law will be enforced throughout the State, something that has not really been possible until now. 

When drivers speed through work zones, there is a very real possibility that someone could be killed as a result. If that happens, drivers face much more than fines. Drivers could face possible criminal charges, including reckless homicide. These charges could have someone facing several years in prison simply because they failed to slow down when workers were nearby. 

The law went into effect on July 1, meaning there could now be law enforcement present at any work area along the side of the road. It also means that more drivers will likely face fines and citations if they refuse to abide by the speed limit in those work zones. 

So, what should motorists watch for? The main factor is if there is anyone, particularly workers, along the side of the road. If there are orange barrels and flashing lights or “workers ahead” signs, there is also a good chance that law enforcement is on the scene.