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Lawmakers Look To Bolster 'Move Over' Laws

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An unprecedented number of Illinois State Police troopers have been injured or killed this year at the hands of drivers who don’t move over when directed to. That’s prompted state and federal lawmakers to get tougher and more changes could be coming.

It’s known as Scott’s Law in Illinois: when you see flashing lights from emergency vehicles on the side of the road, you have to move over to give workers space. This year alone, at least 16 Illinois state troopers have been hit by drivers who didn’t do that. Three of them have been killed.

In response, state lawmakers passed a bill raising fines and making the crime a felony. In the meantime, Acting State Police Director Brenden Kelly said troopers have been issuing more tickets.

“We have issued 750 percent more citations for violations of the Move Over law, and that has already having an effect; just anecdotally, we can see a change in public behavior,” he said. “But, we still have more to do.”

Kelly said the reasons why some drivers don’t pay attention to emergency workers are many.

“Sometimes you have someone who’s driving under the influence of either alcohol or a controlled substance, and they don’t get over because they are impaired or you have people that are distracted because they are on their cell phones, or eating in their car, or any other number of things,” he said.

Included in the package Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign is creation of a Move Over Task Force, which will study the issue closely.

Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation, meanwhile, have asked a government oversight agency to study Move Over laws and recommend how they can be improved.

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.