So far in 2019, at least 16 Illinois State Police troopers have been struck by cars along highways while on duty and three of them died from their injuries. Police say this is a big spike compared with 2018.
In many of these accidents, the squad car was parked with emergency lights on. But the driver responsible for the crash failed to obey Scott’s Law, or the “Move Over Law,” which requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching a parked vehicle with flashing emergency lights.
To combat this growing problem, the 12-year-old daughter of one Illinois State Trooper started the "Move Over Project” to raise awareness about Scott’s Law.
Lucy Kuelper and her father, Illinois State Trooper John Kuelper, join Morning Shift to discuss her project and other efforts to protect state troopers on the roads.
What is the ‘Move Over Project’?
Lucy Kuelper: I’m trying to spread more awareness to this law and see the real faces and all the families behind the men and women who work for our roadways.
Since the recent events, I thought that this needs a change. So I went up to my parents and I said, ‘How can I help?’ And we came up with the idea of making this hashtag, ‘Move Over For,’ and we took the picture on a Friday evening and it just blew up.
White: And talk about the picture you took. Describe it for our listeners.
Kuelper: As soon as my dad got home we took it in front of his squad with a sign that said, #MoveOverForMyDad.
On the background of Scott’s Law
John Kuelper: I think one of my messages that I’m trying to convey to people out there is that this law is not only for police officers — it’s for all emergency vehicles, whether it be involved in a crash, the EMTs, the firefighters as well as the tow truck drivers that are out there, the constructions workers that are out there on a daily basis.
So this law affects a lot of people, and we just try to be as safe as we can and there are laws in place to help that. And hopefully with this awareness, more people will be aware and follow the law.
White: What can you tell us about the background of Scott's Law and why it was enacted.
Kuelper: Scott’s law was originally enacted from an EMT fireman up in Chicago that was struck and killed during an accident scene … it’s not a new law, but due to recent events it’s became a little more of a hot topic. People aren’t following the law, they’re distracted, they’re not paying attention to their driving.
On keeping Illinois State troopers safe on the roads
White: In the wake of the injuries and deaths of Illinois State troopers in recent months, State Representative John Cabello proposed a bill that would toughen criminal penalties for motorists who violate Scott’s Law. Do you think there needs to be stiffer penalties?
John Kuelper: I think that’s an important concept of stiffening those penalties. Anything we can do to make the drivers aware and then the drivers that fail to obey the law, their penalties should be in accordance with what happens.
And I think that’s what his legislation will bring and other legislations will bring. It’s a tier-based system base on not moving over, or not moving over with an accident or, worst case scenario, not moving over and there be a death involved.
White: Lucy, ultimately what do you hope your project accomplishes?
Lucy Kuelper: I think even if it would save one life, I think it would be worth it. I’m just trying to make a change in this law so that everyone comes home to their families and stays safe.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity by Stephanie Kim. Click the “play” button to hear the entire conversation.
GUESTS: Lucy Kuelper, creator of the “Move Over Project”
John Kuelper, Illinois State Trooper in District 7
LEARN MORE: Lucy Kuelper: 'Move over for my dad' (The Register-Mail 4/2/19)