Bill seeks to protect highway workers

A state bill sponsored by a local lawmaker aims to improve safety for highway workers.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 172 last week. The bill adds language to the current Move Over, Slow Down law, giving highway maintenance vehicles such as snow plows, traffic lane stripers, road sweepers, mowing machines and cement trucks the same protections as public safety, emergency and road service vehicles.

The existing Move Over, Slow Down law requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when approaching a stopped public safety, emergency or road service vehicle.

Signs already are on the highway warning people to slow down or switch lanes for the vehicles currently listed in the law. The calls for those adjusting those signs to add the new vehicles.

Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation couldn’t be reached for comment on House Bill 172.

State Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, is jointly sponsoring the bill with state Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl, R-Mount Vernon.

McGregor said he became involved with the bill because of his history with transportation and highway safety issues.

About a year ago a highway maintenance worker in Ruhl’s district was killed by a highway collision. That incident motivated the two lawmakers to push the bill through the House, according to McGregor.

The bill still has to be passed by the Ohio Senate. But the Senate has already passed a similar bill so McGregor said the House could just take on the Senate bill to speed up the process.

Clark County Engineer Johnathan Burr said he believes expanding which vehicles are covered under the law would help protect his employees when they are out on the highway working.

“It makes a lot of sense for the safety of the road workers,” he said.