HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDAK) — There are new protections for drivers stopped along the side of a Pennsylvania road, marking a milestone in a local family’s fight for change.
Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation Thursday that amended the state’s Move Over Law to include ordinary drivers. The legislation was introduced following Andy Sheehan’s reporting on Scott Hirsh, a man who was hit and killed when his car broke down on the Parkway North in 2017.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala was unable to charge the person that hit Hirsh because there was no statute with which to charge him. Since then, Hirsh’s family has worked tirelessly for change.
“We looked at each other and if they’re not going to do it, maybe it’s up to us to do it,” said Hirsh’s son Christian Hirsh.
The family began working with State Senator Pam Iovino, who initially introduced Scott’s Law in honor of Hirsh. The bill was instead amended into Senate Bill 1281 or the Move Over Law and signed by Governor Wolf.
“It’s making our roads safer and it’s the accountability aspect of it,” Iovino said.
The law now gives pedestrians tending to disabled vehicles the same protections as first responders and road service workers.
Drivers must pass in a lane not adjacent to these emergency response areas. If that’s not possible, drivers must pass at no more than 20 miles per hour. There are penalties for those who fail to do so.
“It’s fines all the way up to the possibility of serving some jail time and it depends on the severity of damage that’s done,” Iovino said.
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However, the driver of the disabled vehicle must establish an emergency response area with at least two markings, which could include hazard signal lamps, road flares or caution signs.
Hirsh’s wife Cheryl Hirsh noted that her husband used similar safety measures on the day he was killed.
“He was always prepared and he did everything right,” she said. “That’s what prompted us to do this.”
The Hirsh family says this is far from the end of their efforts.
The family hopes to have the legislation recognized as Scott’s Law and begin public education programs on safer driving and setting up emergency response areas.