The Sabol family relieved following the signing of the Responders Highway Safety Bill

Governor Tony Evers signed an Assembly bill into law Monday that strengthens safety precautions for response workers on Wisconsin roadways.
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:30 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Governor Tony Evers signed an Assembly bill into law Monday that strengthens safety precautions for response workers on Wisconsin roadways.

Assembly Bill 297, which is now Wisconsin Act 115, defines an “emergency or roadside response area” as a portion of a road within 500 feet of an authorized emergency vehicle, which must give a visible signal, or a tow truck that has flashing red lights.

In Lake Delton, the law is known as “Joe’s Law,” in honor of Joe Sabol, a firefighter and Sauk County Sheriff’s Deputy who was hit by a driver while responding to a crash on the interstate back in 2018.

Since then his family and first responders in Lake Delton joined first responders across the state in a call for heavier punishments when a driver endangers those responding to a crash.

“I’m more worried that he’s going to get hit by a car that’s not paying attention because they care more about themselves than the people that are trying to help them,” said Joe’s wife, Amanda.

While Joe was lucky enough to survive the crash, others are not, and that constant danger of injury or death is why Lake Delton Fire Department Chief Derren Jorgenson is relieved the law will help fight for first responders.

“It is scary,” said Jorgenson. “We have gear that protects us from structure fires, but we don’t have anything really that protects us from getting hit by a speeding bullet on the side of the road.”

The law also creates a new crime and penalty for traffic violations that result in bodily harm, if the violation happens in a construction, utility work or emergency response area. The existing measure of doubling fines for certain violations in road construction or utility work areas to an emergency response area also applies.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation must also conduct a campaign for the act to make the public aware of the new rules, Gov. Evers added.

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