Wisconsin roadside responder safety bill on to Senate

If your car has ever broken down on the side of the interstate, you know the horrifying feeling of having to sit while cars zip past you.

For many emergency roadside responders, that happens every day. It is a dangerous job that lawmakers say does not have to be – and legislators are doing something to make it safer.

Video of roadside responders with AAA shows cars flying past workers from just feet away.

AAA emergency roadside worker on interstate as traffic drives by.

"Just within the month of July alone we saw, within just AAA network of contractors, two fatalities," said Nick Jarmusz, AAA director of public affairs.

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"We’re looking at not just the enhanced penalties, but also prevention and what we can do to advise people that they need to do in these emergency zones – establish these emergency zones," said State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton).

A bill, sponsored by Loudebeck, would take a lot of the safety precautions for roadside construction workers and apply them to roadside emergency responders.

"There is a component of awareness that the Department of Transportation will have to do sort of a public awareness campaign," Loudenbeck said.

AAA emergency roadside worker on interstate as traffic drives by.

A bipartisan collective has passed the measure in the State Assembly. It now sits in the State Senate.

"Sometimes when a bill comes to your full caucus there maybe just needs to be some additional layering of information because they didn’t have the benefit of sitting at the hearing and asking those questions," said Loudenbeck.

AAA emergency roadside worker on interstate as traffic drives by.

The bill hopes to make roads safer for those who work to get others out of harm's way.

"Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, as well as tow truck operators and other roadside assistance providers," Jarmusz said. "These are folks who – they just want to get home at the end of the day just like anyone else safely. But their ability to do that really depends on us."

Loudenbeck said she hopes this will be taken up for a Senate vote in October. Residents who wish to add their voice to the conversation are encouraged to contact their state senator.

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