TeeJaw Blog

“Move Over” Law Enhances Safety — But Is Being Used…Surprise, Surprise…To Raise Revenue

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Thursday, June 10, 2010, 8: 37 AM

The “Move Over” law adopted by most states is a good law intended to protect law/safety personnel working on the side of the road. Nobody seriously questions this. But like just about every other traffic control law it can and will be turned into a bear trap to pilfer the wallets of motorists, especially in the current climate where irresponsible politicians and bureaucrats have spent their states into near bankruptcy.

The Rome News and Tribune of Rome, Illinois reports on how the Illinois move-over law is being used by Illinois State Troopers to stave off an impending budget cutback of their agency. Illinois Troopers Find Way to Close Budget Shortfall.

The Governor of Illinois has proposed a reduction by one-third of the 2,000 member Illinois State Police. The Troopers argue that would make no sense because they are an agency that actually produces revenue for the State by issuing traffic tickets. To prove the point they are on a campaign to write more tickets to motorists who fail to observe the move-over law when an emergency vehicle is parked on the shoulder of the road.

The intent of the law is to give emergency personnel more room to work when they are engaged in necessary operations close to the flow of traffic. The law states that an actual emergency or other problem must be visible for the law to apply. But that is not how it is being enforced. The goal here is not safety, but money.

The Illinois troopers are simply parking on the side of the road and turning on their emergency lights, then tearing after any motorist who fails to mover over and slow its speed by the requisite amount. This is, of course, a complete misuse of a good law. Troopers are supposed to be working at their actual jobs, not intentionally disrupting traffic to write more tickets. Any law to promote safety, no matter how well intentioned, can be turned into a trap for motorists where the object is simply revenue and not the original purpose of promoting safety on the highway.

There is one bit of good news coming from Illinois. Rome’s red-light cameras have been neutered by a state law required that one second be added to the yellow cycle wherever a revenue camera is installed. That additional one-second results in so few red-light runners the cameras have been virtually idled.

Gee, if the goal were to reduce red-light running, wouldn’t the politicians and bureaucrats simply add a second to the yellow cycle everywhere, thereby enhancing safety while saving money?

Well, yeah, if that were the goal.

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