CHICAGO — The long holiday weekend means increased traffic, and government and transportation leaders are reminding drivers they're required — by law — to slow down and change lanes when they see a vehicle stopped on the side of the road.
Illinois State Police say there have already been 320 fatalities on Illinois roads this year alone, and officials hope new efforts will keep the number from climbing over the Memorial Day weekend. There’s already a massive push underway to keep the roads safe over the holiday weekend called the "Border to Border" campaign, with troopers set up every 20 miles on I-55, I-57, and I-80.
Wednesday was also officially deemed “Give Them the Distance Day” in Springfield in honor of tollway worker David Schwarz, who was killed last September while picking up debris on the Tri-State near Alsip. Officials say a truck swerved and hit him as he walked back to his truck. Now state leaders are asking drivers to take the "Give Them the Distance Pledge," a promise to adhere to the newly-expanded "Move Over" requiring drivers to slow down and change lanes anytime they come upon a motorist, police officer or maintenance crew stopped on the side of the road.
"This is an everyday experience out there; we’ve had lots of close calls," Illinois Tollway equipment operator David Morache said.
David Schwarz's family was in Springfield today for the honor, but did not speak to the media.
"We do not want this tragedy to occur to anyone else," Gov. Bruce Rauner said.
Officials say if you do need assistance out on the roads this holiday weekend, keep a few things to keep in mind to keep yourself safe: go as far to the right as possible, put on your hazards, call for help, and stay in your vehicle buckled until that help arrives.