SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– State law requires drivers to slow down and move over a lane when driving by a vehicle with flashing lights. Sunday, law enforcement and state leaders gathered to stress the importance of the law.
On December 1, 2017, tow operator Ron Chaney lost his life after a Jeep veered onto the shoulder of I-72 where Chaney was loading a vehicle onto his tow truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Now for the second year, tow trucks took a ride around Springfield in his honor to remind people to move over when a car is stopped.
“Those [cars] are missiles, they are not bullets and whenever they come at you, you have a tenth of a second to try to save your own life. Ron didn’t even have that because he had his back to them because he was leaning in the car,” said Andy Richard, the general manager of A&M Towing who hired Chaney.
“The law says anyone who is on the side of the road with their hazards going whether it emergency personnel or just a regular motorist, you have to slow down and move over,” Springfield Representative Tim Butler said.
Lawmakers were able to strenghten the law this year after several troopers died while assisting drivers on the highway. Violators can now face up to three years in prison if they injure or kill someone because of not moving over. State police also stepped up enforcement of the law.
“From last year until now, we have increased citations for the move over law by 800 percent. This time last year, we were around 600. We’re about 6,000 this year. 6,000 citations so we’re going to continue to do that,” said Mindy carroll, Illinois State Police Central Region Public Information Officer.
Some of Chaney’s former colleagues in the towing business say they have seen more people moving over but they say there is still more work to do.
“We lost a heck of a good guy that day. We’re going to keep doing this and bringing awareness to it and hopefully, we will get people to understand it’s not worth it. Just slow down and move over because we all want to go home at the end of the day,” Richard said.
State police said they plan to continue to educate the public through increased awareness about the law. Tow operators say they would love to see similar emphasis placed on drivers violating state law by using cellphones by driving, hoping to put an end to driver inattention all together.