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Move Over: Illinois State Police release first safety report from new task force

(WSIL) — The Move Over Task Force, formed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in 2019, delivered a report detailing their study of the causes of Move Over crashes and violations and proposing ways to protect law enforcement, emergency responders and all motorists.

The Move Over Law, also known as Scott’s Law, requires drivers to change lanes when approaching stationary emergency vehicles, including all highway maintenance vehicles displaying flashing lights, and any stationary vehicle with their hazard lights activated.  The law also states, if changing lanes is not possible or unsafe, drivers are required to proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle and leave a safe distance until they have safely passed the stationary vehicle.

The task force was formed in the wake of the roadside deaths of two Illinois State Police Troopers Brooke Jones Story and Christopher Lambert in 2019. The crashes were the result of motorists’ failure to comply with the Move Over law.

The task force met five times throughout 2020 to find ways to educate drivers, promote compliance and prevent further tragedies.

The Move Over Task Force recommendations include:

  • Adding improvements to the existing Illinois’ Move Over Law. As written, the law requires vehicles to make a lane change (Move Over) from the stationary authorized emergency vehicle. If a lane change is not available, vehicles must reduce their speed. The Task Force believes for vehicles to “proceed with due caution,” they should always reduce speed. Therefore, laws should say  “Move Over AND Slow Down, as opposed to Move Over OR Slow Down.
  • Inclusion of distracted driving as an aggravating factor for violations of the Move Over Law.
  • Continued support of federal legislation, such as the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act.
  • More flexibility within the Illinois Procurement Code to make public safety-informed decisions on what is best for first responders when it comes to the health and safety of the public. The Task Force recommends the General Assembly pass legislation to encourage swifter acquisition of necessary public safety technology and equipment in the Illinois Procurement Code.
  • Encourage the Illinois Department of Transportation to amend crash reports to capture “Move Over” law crashes and the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts to amend traffic citations to included a box to denote “Move Over” law violations. This would allow the better, more precise collection of data across all law enforcement agencies.
  • Encourage all organizations with traffic safety-oriented missions to continue their efforts educating the public on the Move Over laws and to continue to research and develop new technology and evaluate what other law enforcement agencies are doing to mitigate the risk.

The Move Over Task Force also investigated crash-avoidance technology, including systems that notify drivers by way of an alert that they are approaching an emergency vehicle on the shoulder, allowing more time to slow down and move over earlier. 

The ISP also announced new squad cars will now have push bumpers to help remove traffic obstructing vehicles from roads where possible.

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