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Leaving the scene of an accident?

Published: Monday, April 30, 2012 6:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 6:58 p.m. CDT

Drivers involved in an accident are required to stop their vehicles and remain at the scene.

But what if remaining at the scene could result in another accident?

A bill is working its way through the Illinois General Assembly that would allow drivers to leave the scene of minor accidents, but only to move to a nearby safer location.

The House of Representative’s Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 3409, and it has moved to the House floor for debate. The Senate unanimously passed the bill March 22.

The bill would let any driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted only in damage to a vehicle to move the vehicle as soon as possible off the highway to the nearest safe location on an exit ramp shoulder, a frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location that does not obstruct traffic. The driver then must remain at that location until after speaking with law enforcement officials.

Bill sponsor Rep. Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove, said getting cars out of the way after accidents will help prevent traffic jams and ensure the safety of motorists.

Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, who is member of the House committee that approved the legislation, agrees.

“The intent is to make roads safer,” Moffitt said.

Moffitt said accidents are distracting enough to other drivers, and if the vehicles are in the line of traffic are operable and can move, it’s safest for everyone to have them move out of the way.

Moffitt acknowledged that once vehicles are moved, it can be harder to reconstruct the details of an accident. However, he said he is taking the advice of law enforcement experts that this law is the safest way to prevent more accidents.

“I think it’s the right thing and a reasonable thing to do,” he said.

The legislation would apply only to accidents with property damage. Drivers would be required to remain at the scene if there were any injuries.

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