Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bill moving through the Iowa legislatures will increase penalties on drivers who refuse to give extra room to emergency vehicles on highways and interstates.
Hanifen Towing lost two employees in a crash last September when a driver hit their employees working along the side of the road.
It's been six months since the deadly crash and Julie Hanifen still gets emotional thinking about it because she lost two men who were more like family than employees.
"Both of them were doing their job, trying to help people," said Hanifen.
Jesse Inman and Daniel Walsh were assisting a disabled flatbed truck on the side of Interstate 80 near Grinnell when a semi drove by and hit them. A semi-driver and the flatbed truck driver also died.
Hanifen said that if the semi-truck driver had moved over one lane, it could have prevented the senseless crash.
She is now working with state legislators on a bill to strengthen the current move over law.
"We needed to do something because we can put lights on our trucks, we can put reflective tape on our truck, my drivers can wear safety equipment – I can't control the general public," said Hanifen.
The bill puts tougher penalties on drivers who don't move over for emergency vehicles or slow down at least 10 mph if they're unable to move over. Failure to do this means an immediate driver's license suspension for up to a year and possible fines.
"These are very dangerous situations and when you are driving at 65 and 70 mph and I don't think people realize how narrow the margin of error is," said state Sen. Matt McCoy.
The bill has already passed the Senate. McCoy said there is no opposition and he expects it to become law next week.
Legislators are also working with the Iowa Departments of Transportation and Public Safety to create public awareness programs to let people know that they need to move over for emergency vehicles.