SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Before you toss trash out the car window while cruising down an Illinois highway, think of this: Taxpayers pay $6 million a year to clean it up.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says proper disposal of waste saves in other ways too.

“Trash is more than just an eyesore,” says Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “It has real, negative impacts on both the environment and our communities.”

The $6.1 million IDOT spent last year to pick up litter could pay for resurfacing 30 miles of road or 40 maintenance trucks that could double as snowplows.

Litter on the road causes distractions and crashes and workers who have to pick it up are at risk of injury along busy highways, Osman says, and litter kills plants and animals.

Osman says that littering carries a fine of up to $1,500 and in addition to other penalties, the perpetrator could be required to control litter over a portion of the highway for 30 days as well.

IDOT officials also say that the agency’s Adopt-A-Highway program is gearing back up after limited activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer groups may register to adopt and keep clean two-mile sections of non-interstate roadsides.

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