ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Three state troopers have died this year after being hit by drivers in the line of duty. Now Illinois lawmakers in Washington want to know why.
Illinois law requires drivers to slow down and safelty change lanes when they see emergency lights on the side of the road. It’s called Scott’s Law. When drivers don’t follow that law, the consequences prove to be deadly.
“Actually, sadly, so overall, year by year, with very few exceptions, traffic related fatalities are in fact the number one cause of line of duty deaths within law enforcement,” said Desiree Luongo, Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund.
Illinois lawmakers on capitol hill, including U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, are seeking answers. They’re calling on the “Government Accountability Office” in Washington, a federally-funded watchdog, to report on how effective “move over” laws are across the country.
All 50 states have a “move over” law. Illinois has the largest possible penalty out of any state for not following the law: up to a $10,000 fine. But despite the steep price to pay, there’s still an abundance of crashes. Luongo said 2019 is seeing an unfortunate uptick. Twelve officers have been hit and killed outside their vehicle nationwide in 2019. This time last year, that number was just 7. Luongo said there are a number of factors for these types of crashes.
“It could be the driver behind the wheel, how long have they been driving, are they distracted or not, where does that stop occur, is it on a bend, is it on a straightaway,” she said.
In May, both chambers in Springfield passed Senate Bill 1862. That increases fines for those caught breaking Scott’s Law. That still has to be signed by the governor to go into affect. He has 60 days to take action.