July 22, 2019

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


[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.

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation & Safety Subcommittee, Duckworth has been a strong advocate of transportation safety across the country. Last year, she introduced the School Bus Safety Act along with Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) to keep students safe and prevent accidents involving school buses. Earlier this year, Duckworth secured commitments from top transportation officials and stakeholders to address important train safety and performance issues.

A full copy of the letter sent several weeks ago is available online here.