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Police say some local Uber and Lyft drivers are using a safety feature illegally

MOLINE, Illinois - Quad City area Uber and Lyft drivers are speaking out after they say state troopers in both Illinois and Iowa have started to pull them over for using company-provided amps while driving passengers around.

The amps are features that light up and sync with passengers phones at night.

Some of them have the ability to give a passenger an ETA, display the passenger's name, and change colors to match information on the passenger's phone while using rideshare apps. The goal is to help prevent passengers from getting into the wrong vehicle.

Drivers say the safety feature is especially important after a South Carolina college student was murdered in March after getting into a wrong vehicle while waiting for an Uber.

But, Illinois State Police say some drivers are using the feature illegally.

In Illinois, state law says any light on any vehicle, other than what is required by law, is prohibited.

In Iowa, state law is nearly identical.

The goal of the law is to prevent people from adding emergency lights to their vehicles, which could confuse other drivers.

Some drivers don't think this law should apply to the Lyft amps and Uber lights because the lights do not flash blue or red.

Rideshare driver Carlos Oliva-Guilbault says in the last two weeks, state troopers have been cracking down.

"I have been doing this for over two years, and I've had (the Lyft amp) for over a year and a half, and I have never had a problem until this last weekend," said Oliva-Guilbault.

Oliva-Guilbault says about 10 drivers have spoken out on a closed Facebook Group, saying they have been pulled over in Illinois or Iowa.

Illinois State Police say there has not been an intentional increase in enforcement of the law.

Iowa State Patrol chose not to comment on this issue because they are unfamiliar with the specific situations in which drivers were being cited.

Even while the law must be enforced, Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson says drivers can still use their amps to pick up drivers safely. The law says the lights can't have the amps turned on while driving.

"What you can do is just turn it off now while you're driving down the road. As you approach your passenger, turn it back on so that you can verify with your rider that you are supposed to be there, and then once they get back in the vehicle, turn it back off." said Wilson.

In fact, police say they applaud the work the rideshare drivers are doing to keep drunk drivers off of the road.

They say there are very few exceptions to the laws, and that even the lights pizza delivery drivers have on top of their vehicles are illegal to use while driving.

Uber and Lyft drivers hope to see the laws more clearly defined and fairly enforced.

"People recognize those as our logos. There is no doubt, there would be no questioning that I am impersonating a police officer." said Oliva-Guilbault

Despite the frustrations, the intention is the same on both sides of the issue - keeping people safe on the road.

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