Three new measures were signed into law Tuesday with the aim to make life and the job for those who work along the road easier.
Governor J.B. Pritzker hosted the signing in Rockford to debut enhancements to Scott’s Law or Illinois’s Move Over Law and increased fines in construction zones.
The bill strengthing Scott’s Law increases the first fine to $250 and $750 after that. Part of the penalties will be used to help educate about pulling over and slowing down for any vehicle that’s on the side of the road with hazard lights on.
The punishment for drivers also increases. For damaging another vehicle related to a Scott’s Law violation is up to a year in prison. If someone is killed as the result of a Scott’s Law Violation that is up to three years in prison, along with additional charges that could be applied.
Scott’s Law has been in place since 2002. The protections it provides include first responders, construction workers and tow truck and rescue drivers. It extends to include any stranded motorist on the side of the road with flashing lights on.
A second new law is also creating the Move Over Task Force to look at better understanding Scott’s Law violations and ways to protect first responders.
These two measures were in response to the deaths of three Illinois State Troopers this year while on the side of the road for a traffic stop or to assist another driver.
In addition, 22 Illinois State Police squad cars on the side of a road with lights on have been hit so far this year; that’s more than 2017 and 2018 combined.
A third measure increases the fines and prison time for violations in a work zone.
While a lot of this is to protect law enforcement, it’s seen as a positive step for anyone with a job that involves the stress of working just inches from high-speed traffic.
Berg’s Towing and Recovery driver Levi Wardrip said, “Trying to think of which one to tell you about.”
Almost too frequently to keep track of because just Monday, on the Interstate while working to right this trailer another incident.
Wardrip said, “Instead of following traffic in the right lane, they went around the left side of a police car and he got wrote up for a bunch of tickets.”
Levi Wardrip and his colleagues at Berg’s Towing and Recovery Jim Pulse and Justin Evans said on the side of the road, their office space is measured in just a few feet.
Berg’s Towing and Recovery driver Jim Pulse said, “Sometimes they’re even closer than that.”
Wardrip said, “You’re super vulnerable too, I mean you’re on your knees, there’s not a lot of movement you can do.”
Berg’s Towing and Recovery driver Justin Evans said, “We don’t go running through there job site or office right next to them screaming or whatever when they’re trying to do their job. We’d appreciate it if they’d move over and slow down so we can do our job safely.”
The three said in the last several years, they’ve seen the behavior get worse.
Drivers not just on their phones to look at texts but to photograph them.
Pulse said, “They’s looking at us when they’d out to be paying attention to the road.”
So even while the towing company tries to take as many precautions as they can.
Wardrip said, “I don’t think we can put anymore LED lights on our trucks, we are completely maxed out.”
The hope is this back up from the state will signal the change they need.
Pulse “Show that you mean business causes there’s people lives out there. I want to go home to my grandkids every day.”
Wardrip said, “That excites me. I’m glad they’re enforcing it more because it didn’t seem like it was enforced too much you know around the time I started and three to four years into towing. As time goes on, it definitely seems like it’s definitely getting pressed more. “
The Berg’s employees say they also took part in what is called a Traffic Incident Management or TIM Class.
Illinois Department of Transportation started offering the training last year to help reduce fatalities among people responding to crashes.