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HELENA — The Montana House has given initial approval to a measure that would require drivers to reduce their speed to 35 mph and switch lanes when approaching emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road.

House Bill 542 would also require drivers to reduce their speed to 5 mph in 25 mph zones and would double penalties for traffic violations when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.

Bill sponsor Rep. Amanda Curtis of Butte says emergency workers support the measure, and the bill's passage would protect their lives while responding to roadside emergencies.

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Opponents say the current laws are adequate for the protection of emergency workers.

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The bill passed its initial vote Tuesday 56-43. It will need to pass a final vote in the House before going to the Senate.

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