Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email: [email protected]
(NASHVILLE, TN), April 23, 2010 — State Senator Rusty Crowe Crowe (R-Johnson City) has won approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee of legislation which aims to curb the number of deaths in work and school zones. The legislation, Senate Bill 2882, was approved during the 2010 State and National Work Zone Awareness Week which began on April 19.
The bill adds to the list of charges that can be considered under the state’s vehicular homicide law, cases where the cause was the driver’s knowing failure to exercise due care in a construction zone or a school safety zone or their inadvertence or inattention. The bill is sponsored by Representative Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) in the House of Representatives.
“We have had several tragic deaths recently in these zones where drivers know they are supposed to be paying close attention and taking extraordinary care,” said Senator Crowe. “This bill allows district attorneys to look at these crimes and bring charges under Tennessee’s vehicular homicide law when the inattention is so reckless that it results in a death in one of these two safety zones.”
There were 12 fatal crashes in construction zones and three deaths in school safety zones last year in the state. The Tennessee Department of Transportation also reports 961 people were injured in work zone crashes in 2009. Governor Phil Bredesen proclaimed the Work Zone Awareness Week in Tennessee, joining states across the nation to remind motorists of the dangers of distracted driving in work zones.
“Work Safety Zones need the undivided attention of motorists for the safety of our construction workers and to encounter rough surfaces, uneven pavement, slower speeds and traffic queues that often present a need to slow down abruptly, added Crowe. “School Safety Zones are there for the protection of children and should be strictly observed. There is a small margin of error for drivers passing through these sites.”
The crime would be punishable as a Class D felony, under the bill.
Reports show that approximately 90 percent of fatalities in work zones are motorists and their passengers.