Motorists who become stranded after driving around police barricades during storms and flooding will receive more than a rescue under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Tom Corbett.
The bill, dubbed "Turn Around, Don't Drown," was sponsored locally by State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, of Horsham.
The legislation, which takes effect in 60 days, ensures that anyone who requires rescue, towing or medical care after ignoring a barricade or warning sign would be fined $250 to $500 and have points assessed to their driving record.
Stephens introduced the bill in response to various instances locally in which drivers became stranded, particularly during Hurricane Irene last summer, as a result of attempting to drive around temporary police barricades. Members of Enterprise Fire Company in Hatboro risked their lives carrying out a marine water rescue during last year's storm.
“People just don’t understand what the force of the water’s going to do,” Enterprise Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief James Anders III told Patch following the rescues. “Barricades are there for a reason.”
Calling motorists' failure to comply with barricades a "growing problem," Stephens, in a press release, said the safety concern must be addressed.
“This is a major victory for our police and emergency workers who place their lives on the line to rescue drivers who ignore temporary barricades and become trapped in flood waters,” Stephens said.
Last year, the National Guard was called into Montgomery County to rescue three emergency responders who had gone into flood waters to rescue others, according to the release.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, Sen. John Rafferty, also of Montgomery County, is a long-time supporter of emergency service providers and was instrumental in moving the bill through the Senate.