Most Illinois lawmakers know the story of Lt. Scott Gillen, a member of the Chicago Fire Department, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2000 while assisting at a crash site on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Gillen’s death brought renewed attention to the dangers associated with high-speed traffic conditions and the personnel who work in those conditions. Now in 2017, Scott’s Law is getting an update. It’s incumbent upon Illinois drivers to know exactly what that means.
What is Scott’s Law?
Surprisingly, few people are aware that Scott’s Law is a legal mandate requiring all Illinois drivers to, among other things, change lanes when approaching police or other emergency vehicles on the interstate. More commonly referred to as the “Move Over” law, Scott’s Law comes with strict penalties. Violations can result in stiff fines upwards of $10,000, drivers license suspension, or jail time in extreme cases. The principle is simple: When you see emergency lights, slow down and move over.
Here’s the exact language from the Illinois State Police
Scott’s Law Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) 5/11-907(c), mandates that upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle:
- proceed with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a highway having at least 4 lanes with not less than 2 lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approach vehicle.
- proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintain a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe.
It’s simple really. As of January 1, 2017, Scott’s Law now applies to all vehicles that display flashing emergency lights, including commercial trucks and cars; the law is no longer limited to emergency response vehicles — i.e. police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks. If it hasn’t resonated already: slow down, change lanes, and always proceed with caution, no matter the circumstances.