“Scott’s Law,” enacted in Illinois in 2002, is aimed to protect first responders working in traffic and on roadways. The Law was named in honor of Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by a
drunk driver while assisting at a crash on a Chicago
The law specifically applies to drivers who approach a stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing warning lights. The law requires that Illinois motorists must:
• Slow down;
• Drive with caution; and
• Move over to another lane. Reduce speed if changing
lanes is unsafe.
Illinois Motorists who enter a highway construction are must:
• Slow down;
• Discontinue wireless use; and
• Yield or change lanes away from any authorized vehicles
or workers in the area.
If you violate Scotts law and injure a first responder or worker you can face a $10,000.00 fine and spend time in prison.
Despite the law there have been record breaking violations in recent years. Illinois nearly hit a record high in Scott’s Law car crashes in 2019, with 26 crashes. Illinois State Police have addressed the media due to the recent number of violations. In 2020, District One, which covers Lee, Ogle, Whiteside and Carroll counties saw 48 violations. Illinois State Police are urging drivers who see first responders on roadways to remain alert, slow down, and move over.
This seems like common sense. You see an ambulance, police car or fire truck with their sirens on, you immediately pull over. Or if you are on a highway, you slow down and switch to the furthest lane. It’s unclear why drivers continue to violate the law and continue to injure police and first responders with their vehicles. Is it because of phone? Are people not paying attention. None of the media or research I have read indicates whether these are the causes. Regardless, I think there needs to be a public service push to let Illinois drivers know this is still the law, there a life and death consequences and that you could end up in jail.
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Traffic safety advocacy group, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, released their 2021 report called the “Road Map.” The report analyzes traffic safety and traffic safety laws in all 50 states.
There were less people on the road in 2020 but according to the report, that did not lead to safer streets and highways. “Moreover, preliminary 2020 estimates show that while overall miles traveled are down, the fatality rate has jumped dramatically,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The group gave Illinois a grade of yellow, which means safety improvements are needed. Below is a list of recommendations the group provided to the state:
- All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
- Booster Seat Law
- GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
- GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction Provision
- GDL- Stronger Passenger Restriction Provision
- GDL- Age 18 for Unrestricted License
Below is a list of laws the group believes Illinois is doing correctly:
- Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
- GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
- GDL – 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
- GDL – Cell Phone Restriction
- IID for All Offenders
- Child Endangerment Law
- Open Container Law
- All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction
- Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
One suggestion they did not provide was for stricter texting and driving laws and penalties. As I discussed on this site last week, the Illinois legislature has done their part of strengthening traffic penalties for caught texting and driving during an accident. I will be watching the state legislature closely over the next year to see if they implement any of the suggestions made by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.
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The Illinois legislature passed and the governor signed into law two (2) important new traffic laws in 2020 that went into effect in 2020. I will also discuss a local Chicago ordinance that went into effect in the new year.
First, as I have been writing about on this blog for years, the Illinois legislature finally stiffened the texting and driving penalties when the accident causes serious injury to another party. Beginning on July 1, 2020 the Illinois secretary of state was enabled to revoke driving privileges for one year when a driver causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement” due to use of an electronic communication device. The offense is also subject to a minimum $1,000 fine. Electronic communication devices include hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or portable or mobile computer. It does not include a GPS or a device that is electronically integrated into the vehicle.
Second, stronger penalties were enacted for drivers who injured a pedestrian while walking in a cross-walk. This new law establishes a 12-month license suspension for a motorist who, while violating the right-of-way at crosswalks and in school zones, causes serious injury to another person. This law also went into effect on July 1, 2020.
Finally, as I discussed a few months back, part of the city of Chicago’s 2021 budget included increased fines for drivers caught on speeder cameras driving 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The plan states those driving six miles per hour over posted speed limits would get a warning. If a driver is caught twice, they would then receive a $35 ticket in the mail. This new ordinance took effect in 2021.
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