When you are driving, do you know what to do when you approach a stationary emergency vehicle with its lights on? You likely already know what to do in order to keep you safe, as well as the emergency responders. Slow down, drive with caution and move over into another lane. However, Illinois lawmakers made best practices the law by signing Scott’s Law into effect in 2000.
What is Scott’s Law?
Also known as the “move over” law, Scott’s Law dictates that when approaching any emergency vehicle stopped along the road, drivers must change lanes if possible, slow down and drive cautiously. Lawmakers named this law after Lieutenant Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver. Lt. Gillen was responding to a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway when he was killed.
It’s important to note that Scott’s Law technically applies when the stopped emergency vehicle is flashing its emergency lights. However, it is certainly still wise to slow down and drive cautiously when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle that does not have its lights on as well.
Implications of Scott’s Law
Scott’s Law was developed in the hopes that strong guidelines and penalties would discourage Illinois drivers from creating an unsafe or reckless situation while responders are attempting to assist on the roads. If you violate Scott’s Law, you can be penalized by a fine ranging from $250 – $10,000. However, if you are also intoxicated while violating Scott’s Law, the repercussions include a suspended license for 90 days to 2 years.
The Illinois Police reports that eight times as many of Scott’s Law citations have been written so far this year than last year. While Scott’s Law is not new, Illinois police have been focused on enforcing Scott’s Law this year, as a response to emergency responder and trooper deaths in roadside accidents in 2019.
As you get into your car to travel to work or for a holiday road trip, remember to pay close attention to vehicles pulled over on the side of the road. Not only will proper response save you a ticket, but you could also save a life.