“Adopt-A-Highway” Bill proposed in response to tragic Girl Scout crash

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) — Months after three Girl Scouts and a mom were killed picking up trash in Chippewa County, state legislators are considering a bill that would give more protections to volunteers trying to beautify their communities.

Assembly Bill 151 is being referred to as the “Adopt-A-Highway” Bill, and the goal is to prevent another tragedy.

Representative Jodi Emerson, one of the bill’s sponsors, talked about the project at an event Tuesday with Chippewa County Highway Commissioner Brian Kelley.

Current state law helps keep highway workers safer, however, Kelley argued it didn’t protect his family. “My daughter, Jayna, unfortunately was one of the Girl Scouts that was taken from us on November third,” said Kelley. “Distracted driving and impaired driving is the number one thing that threatens our workers and volunteers out there on the roads.”

Current law doubles fines for traffic violations in work zones or highway maintenance areas. However, Emerson told News 18 the law does not cover volunteers. Drivers don’t have to slow down or move over when they see local groups pitching in on the side of the road. This bill would add volunteers to the same list as highway workers, and also double fines for areas they’re working in.

With over 11,000 miles of adopted highways across Wisconsin, Emerson said this bill is just one small step in the direction of preventing another tragedy. “Our friends and neighbors are literally putting their lives on the line by taking care of our roads by picking up the trash,” said Emerson. “We need to do our part and keep them safe as well.”

Emerson said if the bill passes, it will likely not be in place by the time a lot of groups begin their cleanup, which could be in the next couple of weeks. For now, she and Kelley are urging drivers to slow down, move over, put down the phone, and drive sober.

Samantha Wensel

Samantha Wensel

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