OREGON — Illinois has lost a trio of state troopers to driver-related accidents in the space of three months this year making necessary the need for all of us to reacquaint ourselves with Scott’s Law. And while none of these fatalities occurred in Ogle County, Sheriff Brian VanVickle said a trooper was injured and a squad car damaged.
VanVickle’s deputies witnessed an alarming number of Scott’s Law violations while on patrol.
“On March 29 Ogle County deputies conducted a directed patrol detail on I-39 and I-88. During the first traffic stop (for speeding) deputies observed a motorist violate ‘Scott’s Law,’” he posted on the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page. “During the course of the four hour detail, two Ogle County Sheriff’s Office deputies issued 13 additional citations for ‘Scott’s Law’ violations; 14 in total in four hours.One is too many, 14 shows the scope of the problem.”
In 2002 the ‘Move Over’ or ‘Scott’s Law’ enacted law requiring drivers to slow down and move over when approaching an emergency vehicle. Drivers can face a fine up to $10,000 and have their license suspended, the Sheriff said.
The ‘Move Over Law’ -- Scott’s Law mandates that when approaching any police or emergency vehicle stopped along the roadway, you must: Proceed with caution, change lanes if possible and reduce your speed.
Under Scott’s Law, these precautions must be taken when encountering ANY vehicle equipped with oscillating, rotating or flashing lights.
The Chicago Tribune reported on March 28 that 15 state troopers have been hit this year. A trooper was killed in the line of duty early March 30 after being struck by a vehicle driving in the wrong direction, police said — the second officer to die in a roadside accident that week.
Gerald Ellis, 36, was in his squad car headed home on I-94 in Green Oaks when, just before 3:30 a.m., a driver heading east on the westbound lanes, crashed into him, police said. Ellis, an 11-year veteran, was taken to a local hospital but died about 30 minutes later, according to a statement from Illinois State Police.
That accident came just days after Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, 34, was struck during a highway traffic stop in Freeport — a semi-trailer struck her, her squad car and the tractor-trailer she was inspecting, police said last week. Jones-Story served the force for 12 years. The motorist in the crash that killed Jones-Story was cited with a violation of Scott’s Law.
In January, Trooper Christopher Lambert was fatally struck by a car while investigating an accident on the northbound lanes of I-294 near Willow Road. Lambert had worked for ISP for five years and was also a veteran. He leaves behind a wife and one-year-old daughter.
Those who violate Scott’s Law face fines from $100 to $10,000 and a possible loss of a driver’s license.
The law does not just apply to police, it applies to all emergency vehicles.
The law is named after Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was struck and killed while assisting at a crash scene on a Chicago expressway in December 2000.
SPRINGFIELD – With National Distracted Driving Awareness Month starting today, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and more than 100 city and county law enforcement agencies are reminding drivers to put down their phones and focus on driving.
In April, motorists will see increased patrols and enforcement zones across Illinois to ticket drivers using handheld devices.
“On any given day, you can glance into the next vehicle and see a driver texting, talking or scrolling through social media on their phone,” said Cynthia Watters, bureau chief of IDOT’s Safety Programs and Engineering. “If your attention is anywhere other than on the road, you’re driving distracted, and it can be deadly.”
Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 3,166 people died in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017.
“The Illinois State Police has suffered greatly this year with the loss of three of Illinois’ finest law enforcement officers. We have had 16 squad cars struck this year while on incident, with all emergency lights activated. Among the 16, two resulted in unnecessary and preventable tragedies,” said ISP Acting Director Brendan Kelly.
Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices for any purpose, including talking, texting or using apps. Drivers under 19 are prohibited from using any electronic devices, even handsfree.
Follow these steps to keep everyone safe:
• If you need to text, pull over and park your car in a safe location.
• Identify a passenger as your “designated texter.” Ask them to respond to calls or messages.
• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
• Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box or back seat until you arrive at your destination.
The Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign is supported through federal funds administered by IDOT.
It dovetails with IDOT’s comprehensive multimedia campaign, Life or Death Illinois, which highlights the incredible responsibility of each driver to make good decisions to keep our roads safe and to decrease the number of lives lost each year.