Rauner cites Monee tollway worker's death in urging Illinoisans to pledge highway safety
Gov. Bruce Rauner set aside May 23 as Give Them Distance Day.
Honoring 25-year Illinois Tollway maintenance worker David Schwarz, who was killed in September picking up debris from the side of the highway, Rauner at a press conference asked all Illinoisans to take the pledge to drive safer on the tollway.
“We do not want this tragedy to occur to anyone else in the state of Illinois,” Rauner said of Schwarz, who was a 48-year-old Monee resident.
More than 1,000 people have been killed on Illinois roadways in the past two years, Rauner said. He reminded the media of Scott's Law, also known as the "Move Over Law," which was passed in 2002 in memory of Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed by the side of the road when he stopped to assist at a crash site.
“We are asking everyone every day to please drive cautiously, carefully and alert,” Rauner said, adding flashing lights on a vehicle should cause drivers to slow down and move over.
That is not all the governor is asking.
“Take the pledge at givethemdistance.com,” Rauner said.
Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz first acknowledged the Schwarz family, who were present for the press conference.
“It deeply affected my people and they wanted me to let you know, they think about you all the time,” Schmitz said.
He said the Illinois State Police work every day to enforce the Move Over Law, which requires vehicles to slow down when they see emergency vehicles on the roadside. Rauner broadened the law in 2017.
“The difference is when you see construction workers and maintenance workers, give them a lot of space,” Schmitz said.
There have been 320 roadside fatalities in 2018, Schmitz said.
“We hope the Give Them Distance campaign reminds drivers of the hazards of emergency personnel and disabled motorists face while parked on the shoulder of the road,” Schmitz said.
Illinois Tollway Executive Director Liz Gorman said since Schwarz’s death, officials are doing all they can to heighten safety awareness for all who travel the tollway roads.
“The Give Them Distance campaign reminds us all of the importance of the Move Over Law that was expanded by Gov. Rauner last year,” Gorman said.
The law is common sense, according to Gorman, who said it requires drivers to slow down and change lanes safely when approaching a vehicle with flashing lights on the roadside.
“It could be any one of us or our loved ones on the side of the road,” Gorman said.
The pledge goal is $1 million.
“We have had some big names take the pledge including Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky and former Black Hawk Bobby Hull,” Gorman said.