The sponsor of legislation that includes a provision allowing MODOT workers and contractors to display red and blue lights in work zones wants to override Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto in September.
State Rep. Charlie Davis (R-Webb City) tells Missourinet it’s a safety issue.
“Red and blue lights on the side of a highway that are stationary mean move over, so that way the MODOT workers, the construction workers, their lives are very important and I believe we need to do whatever we can to save the lives of all of these workers that are working on the side of our highways,” Davis says.
The Missouri House and Senate overwhelmingly approved Davis’ comprehensive bill this year. In his veto letter, Governor Nixon notes red and blue lights are used by emergency vehicles and that permitting transportation vehicles to display them “will cause motorists needless confusion.” Nixon’s letter also says the bill “could create danger.”
MODOT says eight people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes in 2015. 17 MODOT employees have been killed in the line of duty, since 2000.
“Currently, we have tow trucks are allowed to use red and blue lights on their vehicles as they’re picking up vehicles along the highway,” Davis says. “Why are we not allowing MODOT workers that are actually doing bridge work or road work to have those lights?”
Governor Nixon did sign legislation this summer allowing transportation vehicles to display amber and white lights. In his veto letter, Nixon wrote that adequate protection is afforded by the displaying of amber and white lights, and that the lighting options outlined in Davis’ bill are not necessary.
There are eight provisions in Davis’ bill. While Governor Nixon focused much of his veto message on the light issue, he also raised concerns about a provision in the bill involving “platooning”, which would establish a pilot program for testing automated long-haul trucks on Missouri highways. In his veto message, Nixon writes “Automated driving technology has advanced significantly within the last several years; however, the long-term safety and reliability of this technology remains unproven. That fact was tragically highlighted with the recent fatality involving a self-driving passenger vehicle.” Nixon also wrote that “Using Missouri highways as a testing ground for long-haul trucks to deploy this unproven technology is simply a risk not worth taking at this time.”
Davis says he disagrees with Governor Nixon’s comments about platooning.
The Veto Session begins September 14 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City. An override would require a two-thirds majority vote in both Chambers.
Davis says he’s told House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) that he intends to seek an override vote.