GAO to Evaluate Effectiveness of “Move Over” Laws to Protect First Responders Following Push from Bustos, Duckworth, Durbin & Fischer

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — In response to a request from U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (IL-17), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced they will conduct a new study to review the effectiveness of our country’s “Move Over” laws, which are designed to protect first responders who are doing their duty and may be stopped alongside busy roads. The letter, sent earlier this month, asked GAO to evaluate the effectiveness of such laws in light of persistent motor accidents on highways and major roads that have taken the lives of first responders. Three Illinois State Police troopers have been killed already this year after being struck by vehicles: Troopers Gerald Ellis, Brooke Jones-Story and Christopher Lambert.

 

“According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, traffic-related incidents continue to be one of the leading causes of death among on-duty law enforcement officers,” the Members of Congress wrote in their initial letter. “Since 2009, more than 122 law enforcement officers have been struck by vehicles and killed while they were stopped along highways.”

 

“‘Move Over’ laws are designed to protect emergency responders, workers and others who are stopped on the side of the road by requiring motorists to shift lanes and/or slow down,” they continued. “However, states continue to report numerous incidents of drivers failing to move over and crashing into emergency responders and others.”

 

The Members of Congress asked GAO to review the effectiveness of current laws, the challenges states face in implementing these laws and how the federal government can help states educate the public to avoid these preventable tragedies. GAO notified Duckworth, Durbin, Fischer and Bustos that they will conduct a study in the coming months.

 

In late March, Trooper Brooke Jones-Story lost her life while inspecting a vehicle near Freeport, Illinois in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. Her name was added to the Illinois State Police Memorial Wall this weekend. As the wife of a sheriff, Congresswoman Bustos has a great deal of admiration for the work our law enforcement officers do to keep our communities safe. She hopes the review of these laws is done thoroughly and efficiently to help bring an end to these tragic accidents.

 

A full copy of the letter sent several weeks ago is available online here and GAO’s letter in response can be found here.

 

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