South Carolina: Slowing Down for Work Zones
Highway work zones can be a life-threatening place to work, which is why “Peanut’s Law” has been passed in both the South Carolina Senate and House. While this bill would improve safety in highway work zones, one South Carolina senator is blocking its final passage because he says the severity of the consequences would be unfair.
The name behind the bill comes from a 22-year-old highway work zone flag man, who was killed while working in Williamsburg County. Kenneth “Peanut” Long, Jr. was hit and killed by a speeding driver in 2013 and the driver only received a $310 fine and four points off his license. The bill, after Peanut’s namesake, would punish drivers more severely for endangering the lives of highway workers who are trying to improve the road conditions around the state.
The bill would increase both the penalties and fines for speeding in highway work zones. There would be different penalties depending on what the driver’s violation was and how badly a highway worker was injured, if at all. For example, the bill states:
- If a highway worker is endangered but suffers no physical injury, the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined no more than $500 and no less than $75, or imprisonment of no more than 30 days, or both.
- If a highway worker suffers physical injury resulting from the driver’s offense, the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined no more than $2,000 and no less than $500, or imprisonment for no more than 60 days.
- And if a highway worker dies within three years of the endangerment as a direct result of the injuries gained from the accident, the driver could be charged with reckless vehicular homicide.
Senator Gerald Malloy, however, is blocking the bill. He says that although he’s very sympathetic any time someone is hurt or killed, he thinks the penalties in this case are too severe. Malloy doesn’t think a person should face a severe criminal violation if they happened to miss a sign while in a hurry to get somewhere. The senator doesn’t feel that in this situation, it’s a good idea to change the state law. He feels that Peanut’s Law would criminalize something that is not intentional.
However, the bill isn’t only meant to protect construction workers on the roads. According to AAA, 85 percent of the people killed in highway work zone accidents are drivers and passengers, not highway workers. The passing of this law would encourage drivers to use more caution while in highway work zones, resulting in better protection for the drivers and passengers passing through, as well as the men and women working on the roads.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a highway work zone accident, contact the lawyers at Steinberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have what it takes to create a successful case against the party responsible for your injuries. Our firm can be reached online 24 hours a day, or by phone at 843-720-2800.