Just a few months into 2019, Illinois has seen 15 crashes involving Illinois State troopers who were struck by motorists while stopped on the side of the road with their emergency lights flashing. That alarming number is more than all the Illinois State Police-related crashes reported during the three previous years combined, prompting authorities to remind drivers about Scott’s Law and the importance of slowing down, moving over, and using caution when they see emergency vehicles stopped on the shoulder of the road.
What is Scott’s Law?
Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over” Law, is named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. While responding to an accident on the Dan Ryan Expressway, he was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver. According to Section 12-215 of the Law Code, emergency vehicles include any vehicles that are legally authorized to be fitted with flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights while their owners or operators are performing their duties.
Scott’s Law essentially mandates that when drivers are approaching a stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying an emergency signal – either alternately flashing red and blue lights or yellow or amber warning lights – they must:
- Move over. If possible, yield the right-of-way by switching to another lane that is not adjacent to the lane occupied by the emergency vehicle. This caveat applies if you are on a highway with at least 4 lanes, with at least 2 lanes going in the same direction as the approaching vehicle.
- Slow down. if it’s impossible to change lanes, proceed with caution and maintain a speed that is safe for road conditions.
What happens if you violate Scott’s Law?
Violators of the move-over law are guilty of a business offense and can face a maximum fine of $10,000. If drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substance is found to be an aggravating factor, impaired motorists’ driving privileges shall be suspended for:
- 90 days to one year if violation results in property damage to another person
- 180 days to 2 years if violation causes injury to another person
- 2 years if violation results in another person’s death
As you navigate the roadways, please be especially mindful when you see emergency vehicles with tier lights flashing, so first responders can perform their jobs safely. Even one injury or fatality is one too many.