Bill Would At Least Double Fines for Speeding in Work Zones in - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Bill Would At Least Double Fines for Speeding in Work Zones in S.C.

Posted: Updated:
Kenneth “Peanut” Long, Jr. was killed in a highway work zone last August. Kenneth “Peanut” Long, Jr. was killed in a highway work zone last August.
COLUMBIA, S.C. -

The fine for speeding in a highway work zone could at least double under a bill now in the South Carolina Senate. After hearing dramatic testimony Tuesday, senators decided to keep working on the bill, likely to raise the fines even more.

Elizabeth Ward of Georgetown County told a Senate subcommittee about her son Kenneth Long, Jr., who was just 22 years old and in his third week on the job as a flag man at a road construction site in Williamsburg County last August.

"The gentleman did not even slow down through the work zone area," she said. "He had 1,500 feet to hit his brakes and try to slow down and he didn't. He left the road and my son was running for his life when he hit and killed him."

The driver was fined $310 and given four points on his license.

The bill in its current form would double the fine to between $250 and $400 for speeding in a work zone if no one gets hurt. If someone is injured, the fine would be up to $1,000 and jail up to 60 days.

But after hearing testimony, senators want to amend the bill so the fine if no one is injured would be between $500 and $1,000, and if someone is injured it would be $2,000 plus possible prison time.

Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Kingstree, said of the bill, "This is huge! I've been in the Senate 26 years. I've never seen anything like it."

The bill would use half the fine money to hire state troopers to sit at highway construction zones. Highway safety consultant Earl Capps told senators studies have shown that's a much more effective deterrent for drivers than fines alone.

He worked on a project to widen I-26 in Charleston County.

"I can't begin to tell you how many incidents we had," he told senators. "Drivers going through work zones, going through closed lanes. One of them destroyed my car going 90; blew a .15 (blood alcohol level) an hour afterwards. We had at least two dozen company vehicles hit by people in closed lanes. We had a number of fatalities."

Billy Grayson, safety officer for Banks Construction, said, "Our guys, they're tough highway workers, but they are still fearful of stepping foot into a work zone at night because of the things that we've seen on almost a daily basis. Not just night time but day time. We have near-misses with people driving in work zones hitting equipment. We've had people hit."

His boss, Reid Banks, told senators having those extra troopers in the work zones will make a huge difference. "We might get 'em once every couple of weeks. We need 'em on our jobs every night," he said.

He said now, the Highway Patrol provides troopers to be stationed in work zones only for federally-funded projects, but they're needed on all projects.

But the bill is not about protecting just highway workers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, looking at highway construction zone fatalities in 2008, 85 percent of the people killed were drivers and passengers.

Kenneth Long's nickname was "Peanut." Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, told Long's mother and grandmother that the bill would now be referred to as "Peanut's Law."

Peanut's grandmother, Alberta Howard Bratcher, said of the proposed fine increase, "No amount of money will bring him back. But just maybe another family won't have to suffer what we've suffered and will suffer the rest of our life." 

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman Gives Birth To Baby Weighing Over 19 Pounds

    Woman Gives Birth To Baby Weighing Over 19 Pounds

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:39 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:39:10 GMT
    Photo of Akbar Risuddin, a 19.2 pound baby who was born in Indonesia. (Credit: Associated Press)Photo of Akbar Risuddin, a 19.2 pound baby who was born in Indonesia. (Credit: Associated Press)
    A woman in Indonesia's has given birth to the country's heaviest-ever newborn.
    A woman in Indonesia's has given birth to the country's heaviest-ever newborn.
  • Savannah Man Wanted in Connection to Teen's Murder

    Savannah Man Wanted in Connection to Teen's Murder

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:16:14 GMT
    18-year-old Jo'Andre Robbins18-year-old Jo'Andre Robbins
    Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police are requesting the public's help in locating a Savannah man charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old teen in the Carver Village last area Saturday night.
    Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police are requesting the public's help in locating a Savannah man charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old teen in the Carver Village last area Saturday night.
  • Teen Charged in Businessman's Shooting

    Teen Charged in Businessman's Shooting

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:58:08 GMT
    A teenager has been arrested in connection with a shooting and robbery earlier this month along Waters Avenue.
    A teenager has been arrested in connection with a shooting and robbery earlier this month along Waters Avenue.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.