By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — After two separate crashes sent an Illinois state police trooper and an IDOT worker to the hospital less than 12 hours apart – CBS 2 is digging into the state’s “Move Over” law

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the crashes sent them to the hospital less than 12 hours apart.

CBS 2 learned citations slowed down dramatically during the pandemic. But Illinois State police said that trend will likely change. After a pandemic slowdown, traffic volumes are picking up again on the highways.

And so too are the number drivers failing to move over for emergency vehicles. Captain Jason Bradley spoke to CBS 2 from his ISP squad car. He oversees District 15, which covers all of the toll roads encompassing 12 counties and nearly 300 miles of roadway.

And the Move Over Law  or Scott’s Law  is personal for him.

“We lost two troopers in the line of duty, two Scott’s Law violations last year,” Bradley said.

Trooper Christopher Lambert was in his district. The 34-year-old was responding to a crash when he was struck and killed by a car in January 2019.

Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, also 34, was struck and killed by a semitrailer just two months later. After that, penalties were heightened. Enforcement and education were ramped up.

And between January and September of 2019  over 5,500 (5,531) drivers were ticketed for failing to move over.

So what’s been happening in 2020? CBS 2 discovered that during the same time frame this year, citations are way down. Just over 1,500 (1,508) drivers cited so far this year. What might have contributed to that pretty major reduction in the number of citations being issued?

“During the start of the pandemic, we were seeing major reductions in traffic volumes. So this one aspect of it the other thing is I’d like to think that we are seeing compliance from motorists for the violation itself,” Bradley said.

But as travel volumes increase‚ and in the wake of two crashes that crumpled a squad car and an IDOT vehicle on this job Wednesday‚ Captain Bradley said we can likely expect those numbers to rise.

“Whether they’ve got flashing lights on, red and blue, hazard lights or just a vehicle on the side of the road that’s broken down. That message pertains to everybody,” Bradley said.

The trooper from Wednesday’s crash was was airlifted to a local area hospital with head trauma. He’s expected to recover. The IDOT worker who was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Last year, Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill that added teeth to the Move Over law. That update made it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison if a person is hurt or killed.

Fines were also increased.

 

Megan Hickey