PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Pittsburgh-area family held a special event marking the enactment of a law that provides new protections for drivers stopped on the side of the road.
The law is designed to protect disabled motorists and pedestrians from being killed or injured by errant 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. Starting Tuesday, his family’s persistence could save others from the same fate.
Hirsh’s death was both senseless and tragic. After setting up warning flares, he set about to change a tire, but a distracted driver crossed over two lanes and killed him.
On Monday, his family has brought about change, ensuring he won’t have died in vain.
“This day and beyond, Scott will be saving lives,” said Cheryl Hirsh, Scott’s widow.
“I know Scott’s looking down on us, and he’s so proud of us,” said Terri DeWitt, Scott’s sister-in-law.
When the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute, the family began a legislative push. The result was an expansion of the state’s Move Over Law. By the act of the Legislature and Governor Tom Wolf, the law — which protects first responders and road service workers — will now give disabled motorists and pedestrians those same protections.
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“The motorist who is changing his own tire or helping someone else on the side of the road, they have no protections whatsoever. Now this really helps to keep motorists safe,” said Ben DeVor from PennDOT.
“This Move Over Law has teeth in it. It’s a $500 fine for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and $2,000 for the third,” said Todd Leiss from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The event Monday was held by the family and AAA, which also lobbied for the law’s expansion to include pedestrians after hearing from their own tow truck operators
“And without fail, I hear stories about cars coming within inches of their bodies, 60, 70 miles per hour or faster,” said Jim Garrity from AAA. “Stories that raise the hair on the back of my head. So this law is essential, it’s necessary.”
And the family invited only KDKA for our reports chronicling their efforts from the beginning and helping get the new measures passed in Harrisburg.
The Hirsh family is not done. They’ve initiated an effort to get a section of the highway named after Scott.