What Is Scott’s Law – aka The Illinois “Move Over” Law?

Scott’s Law is an Illinois law that is also known as the “Move Over” law. It dictates the lawful operation with regard to passing a stopped emergency vehicle. It is a regulation aimed at increasing traffic safety and avoiding accidents.

Scott’s Law is discussed on the Illinois State Police page titled “Scott’s Law” (pdf) subtitled “The Move Over Law.” It can also be considered the “Rules Of The Road” when approaching emergency vehicles on the side of the road.

The two main directives from the law is to slow down and move over when there is a stopped emergency vehicle, or a maintenance or construction vehicle with flashing lights. These flashing lights can be of various colors, as discussed on the page. Applicable emergency or maintenance vehicles include fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, tow trucks, maintenance and construction vehicles.

If possible, the oncoming driver should change to a lane away from the stopped vehicle and proceed with caution.

An excerpt from this Scott’s Law page:

As of January 1, 2017, the Move Over Law now applies to all vehicles that display flashing emergency lights, including commercial trucks and cars; the law is no longer limited to authorized emergency vehicles — i.e. police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks.

Another excerpt, from the Illinois State Police news release of March 25, 2019 titled “WITH SURGE OF CRASHES INVOLVING ISP TROOPERS, GOV. PRITZKER AND ILLINOIS STATE POLICE URGE MOTORISTS TO FOLLOW “MOVE OVER” LAW“:

The Move Over Law requires motorists to approach with caution and yield to emergency vehicles, including highway maintenance vehicles displaying oscillating, rotating or flashing lights. Drivers must change lanes if they can do so safely or reduce speed and proceed with caution if unable to change lanes.

 Though not an exhaustive list, this would include police, fire, emergency medical system, construction and towing vehicles. As of January 1, 2017, the law was also updated to include the general public when they are roadside with their emergency four-way flashers activated.

Violators of the Move Over Law are mandated to appear in court. Additionally, they can be fined not less than $100 or more than $10,000 and have their driver’s license suspended for up to two years if the violation involves injury to another.

The law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. He was fatally struck by a drunk driver as he was assisting at an accident scene on the Dan Ryan Expressway. This fatal accident occurred in 2000.

Scott’s Law does not currently specify to what speed the driver should slow to – nor does it specify how much room to leave when passing the stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck, maintenance vehicle, or other applicable vehicle.

Scott’s Law is getting greater attention (and greater enforcement) as there have been numerous Illinois accidents in 2019 in which vehicles have struck Illinois State Police (ISP) Troopers. A surge in such accidents occurred in early 2019, resulting in 14 State Troopers being struck as they were pulled over to respond to highway incidents. In all of these instances, emergency lights were activated.

Scott’s Law aims to protect police officers, firemen, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and other workers when they are parked on the side of the road.

Additional details regarding this traffic safety regulation can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

Roadways Prone To Accidents Within The Chicago Area

Roadways prone to accidents can occur for many reasons. Among these reasons are overly complicated roadway designs; too much traffic for a given roadway; a lack of suitable traffic control devices; and too little traffic safety enforcement. As well, in addition to these factors, accidents with injuries are more prone to happen if vehicles are traveling at excessive speed. Vehicles traveling at excessive speed is problematical for many reasons, as further discussed on the “Speed As An Accident Cause And The Potential For Serious Injuries” page.

These roadways prone to accidents are a traffic safety concern as they often lead to accidents with injuries.  In the Chicago area there are many intersections which are considered due to various reasons to be “dangerous intersections” or intersections in which accidents frequently occur.  A broad range of accident types can occur, including “T-bone crashes”, “rear-end collisions,” pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents.  Often, a history of frequent accidents will lead to changes in the design of the roadways and intersections to reduce the possibility of additional accidents.

NBC Chicago ran a segment (video and article) on February 6, 2019 titled “Chicago-Area Drivers Navigate ‘Confusing’ Intersections.”  The video shows various roadways and intersections in the Chicago area – including those in Chicago, several in DuPage County, some commentary regarding roundabouts in Lake County, and a problematical intersection in Will County.

An excerpt from the article:

NBC 5 Investigates contacted transportation experts and dozens of area police departments to learn what they considered to be the potentially confusing new or old roadway designs.

With regard to the accident-prone intersection in Oak Brook, the article states the following:

22nd and Butterfield Road in Oak Brook (The roadway that is in straight alignment changes from 22nd Street to Butterfield Rd. Police said there were 69 crashes at this intersection in 2017.)

Additional details regarding these roadways prone to accidents can be seen in the NBC segment.

Adverse Driving Conditions Forecast For Will County

An oncoming winter storm is expected to create adverse driving conditions throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Wind, snow, ice, and dropping temperatures are forecast.

Given these anticipated adverse driving conditions, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) issued a January 18, 2019 media release titled “Snow, plummeting temps, strong winds, bring challenging travel conditions this weekend.” (pdf)

Notable excerpts include:

The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning the public that a winter storm arriving this evening will make travel a challenge throughout much of Illinois, with some areas possibly receiving up to 8 inches of snow. Motorists should be prepared for high winds and colder temperatures persisting through the weekend, causing drifting and icing even on treated surfaces.

also:

The National Weather Service is forecasting snow to begin this evening across northern and central Illinois, with totals ranging between 2 and 8 inches by Saturday evening. The southern part of the state is expected to see a mix of precipitation with the potential for icing. Gusty winds and low temperatures the remainder of the weekend will create blowing and drifting, reducing visibility to whiteout conditions at times and limiting the effectiveness of salt.

Motorists should expect slick conditions and remain extra cautious at all times.

The media release also offers travel tips for those who must travel. Among the more notable safety tips for adverse driving conditions include:

  • Use extra caution in areas susceptible to ice, including ramps, bridges, curves and shady areas.
  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law and your best protection in the event of a crash.
  • If you are involved in a crash, remain inside your vehicle. Exiting your vehicle near a busy roadway can have fatal consequences.

On this site, the benefits of wearing a seat belt – and the risks and potential consequences of not wearing a seat belt – are further discussed on the “Seat Belts As An Accident Injury Preventative Measure” page.

Additional details regarding these anticipated adverse driving conditions for Will County and the surrounding areas can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

Driving In Snow Safely During The Chicago Winter Season

Driving in snow often requires caution in order to avoid getting into an accident.  As seen in many accidents, snow and icy conditions can lead to “slide-offs,” spinouts, “rear-end” accidents, and for trucks, jackknifing.  These accidents can be particularly hard to avoid if there is “black ice,” which can be very difficult to see and extremely slick.

On November 15, 2018 driving in snow was addressed in the wgntv.com article (with video) titled “IL transportation officials say be smart, pay attention driving in snow.”  The segment discusses various safety tips, including driving slowly near accident scenes as well as avoiding distracted driving.

An excerpt from the article:

As dangerous as conditions can get here in the Great Lakes region, with weather changing in an instant, snow plow drivers and police all too often see people fumbling with their cell phones in winter driving conditions.

And snow plow drivers say they see too many distracted motorist cutting in front of snow plows carrying six-tons of salt.

As discussed on the “Distracted Driving Accidents” page, many accidents that have occurred in Will County as well as the broader Chicago area are caused by drivers who are distracted.  While this distraction can involve many actions, the frequent source of distracted driving involves drivers who are texting or otherwise using the cellphone.

However, there are many other circumstances that can lead to a driver being dangerously distracted.  Among other actions include trying to operate mobile technologies while driving, such as car navigation systems.  Even talking or arguing with another person in the vehicle can lead to the driver being sufficiently distracted to create a dangerous situation.  In many cases, such driver distraction causes a loss of vehicle control that often leads to a collision either with another vehicle, pedestrian, or – if the vehicle leaves the roadway – a fixed object like a tree or utility pole.

Additional details regarding driving in snow and distracted driving can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

Drunk Driving Crashes And Efforts Made To Reduce Their Frequency

Drunk driving crashes  as well as accidents involving drivers who are impaired by drug use continue to be a traffic safety problem in Will County as well as throughout Illinois.

On this site, Will County drunk driving crashes are discussed in posts found under the “DUI” category.  As seen in the various accidents discussed in these posts, these crashes have caused many serious injuries and in some cases fatalities.

Many different types of accidents can occur due to impaired driving.  These drunk driving crashes often involve loss of control accidents as impaired drivers frequently have difficulty in adequately driving the vehicle.  Often, these loss of control accidents lead to the vehicle leaving the roadway, at which point they are susceptible to hitting a fixed object like a tree.

Drunk driving crashes happen throughout the year.  However, they often are more frequent around holiday periods.  For this reason, law enforcement often performs special enforcement initiatives – sometimes including checkpoints – in order to try to reduce the amount of drunk driving.

The November 6, 2018 Joliet Patch article titled “Joliet Roadside Checkpoints Are In Place For The Holidays” discusses the Joliet Police Department’s plans for setting up checkpoints during this Thanksgiving holiday period.

An excerpt from the article:

 Joliet Police, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, will enforce the checkpoints in an effort to increase seatbelt usage and crack down on drunk driving and speeding, particularly leading up to Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving being one of the busiest travel days, there is the potential for more accidents and fatalities.

As mentioned, police officers will also be checking for other violations such as whether vehicle occupants are wearing seat belts, and that children are also in child seats or otherwise using appropriate restraint systems.

As discussed in the “Seat Belts As An Accident Prevention Measure” page, seat belts remain one of the best ways to prevent accident injuries during a crash.

Road Hazards And The Threat To Traffic Safety In Illinois And Will County

The threat to safe driving presented by road hazards is discussed on the “Will County Road Hazards” page.  As seen on that page, road hazards can take many forms.  Among the most dangerous road hazards are those objects that hit vehicles as they drive down the expressway or other roadway.  These objects can include tires and wheels which have detached (often called “wheel separations”) from other vehicles.  One such Chicago-area accident that involved a wheel that had detached off of a SUV and fatally struck a driver in a car as the driver was traveling on the Bishop Ford Freeway.

Other types of road hazards can include high standing water on the roadway.  Depending on the depth of the water and other characteristics, this standing water can cause hydroplaning or other adverse impacts on vehicle handling, which can lead to a loss of vehicle control.

Another type of road hazard is large potholes or other types of substantial road deformities which, if hit by a vehicle, can cause the driver to lose control.  On this site various Will County traffic hazards of this type have been summarized.

One of the reasons that road hazards are potentially dangerous is that they often are unexpected; as well, they can suddenly appear and as such may leave the motorist with little reaction time to successfully react to the hazard.

As well, if the motorist is driving at night or other situations with limited visibility, these road hazards can be especially problematical.

On August 30, 2018 NBC Chicago aired a video segment titled “More Than 9,000 Crashes on Illinois Roads Caused By Debris.”  The segment discusses one type of road hazard, debris that is sitting on the roadway.  If hit or run over by a vehicle, such debris can cause a range of adverse effects, including a loss of control and/or a crash.

An excerpt from the article:

Seventeen people have been killed in crashes caused by debris on Illinois roadways, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s most recent data.

From 2012 to 2016, more than 9,000 accidents have resulted in more than 1,500 people injured.

As seen in the segment, there is a wide range of items that IDOT has found on the roadway, including kitchen sinks, grills, and mattresses.

Additional details and possible updates concerning road hazards and road debris can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

New Illinois Distracted Driving Law Effective July 2019

Distracted driving continues to be a major traffic safety issue nationally, as well as in Will County as well as throughout Illinois.  There are many possible actions that can lead to a driver being distracted to the point where the driver is susceptible to a loss of vehicle control.   Two of the most problematical actions that frequently lead to distracted driving is the use of cell phones while driving as well as texting while driving.

A recent study, which is discussed in the April 2, 2018 post titled “‘Distracted Driving’ Seen As Top Threat To Traffic Safety” indicates that such driving was seen by motorists as the top threat to traffic safety.

There are many reasons why distracted driving is such a traffic hazard and often leads to loss of vehicle control accidents.   Loss of control accidents often lead to serious injuries for both the occupants of the vehicle that has lost control as well as any other individuals involved in the crash.

Various reasons as to why distracted driving is hazardous, as well as various statistics, are further discussed on the “Distracted Driving Accidents” page.

Recently, a new Illinois law (further) addresses distracted driving.  The Daily Herald article of August 22, 2018 (“Why Illinois is making penalties for texting while driving tougher“) discusses the new law and various statistics regarding driver distraction.  An excerpt:

State Sen. Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat who sponsored the legislation, says penalties under the current law, which went into effect in 2014, haven’t done enough to curb motorists from using cellphones while driving. In 2017, about 9 percent of Illinois motorists were observed using electronic devices while driving, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Nationwide, distracted driving caused 3,450 deaths in 2016.

also, with regard to the new law:

The stricter penalties, which go into effect on July 1, 2019, were signed into law last week. People who illegally use handheld electronic devices while driving will be given a moving violation on the first offense instead of a nonmoving violation. Motorists who rack up three moving violations within a year can have their driver’s license suspended.

An excerpt regarding this new law and its penalties regarding distracted driving, from the August 17, 2018 Chicago Tribune article titled “New distracted driving fine, bike safety rule signed into law“:

One law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner imposes a harsher penalty on drivers caught using a phone behind the wheel without a hands-free device.

The new law, which goes into effect next July, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

Additional details regarding these distracted driving issues can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

Road Hazard Presented By Pavement Buckling In Frankfort

Road hazards have been often discussed on this site, as such road hazards can suddenly present a dangerous situation to motorists and other road users such as motorcyclists.  Road hazards can take many forms, including items that are sitting on the roadway or items that fall off of other vehicles.  These hazards are often unexpected and can pose a challenge to drivers who have to avoid hitting such objects.

One category of road hazard relates to pavement deformities.  This  including potholes, broken pavement, uneven pavement, large cracks, and gravel.  One type of pavement problem is pavement buckling.  This involves the sudden “buckling” of pavement during which one portion of the pavement sudden breaks and rises significantly above the roadway.

While this is somewhat rare, it has happened in the Chicago area during times of hot temperatures.  Recently, there was an incident on Route 41 in Highland Park, and past incidents have happened in Chicago as well as other areas.

The May 27, 2018 Mokena Patch article titled “Hot Temperatures Cause Concrete To Buckle On LaGrange Road” discusses a pavement buckling that happened on Sunday (May 27, 2018) in Frankfort, on LaGrange Road south of Nebraska Street.

An excerpt from the article, commenting on pavement buckling that happened on May 26:

This is the second time this week that excessive heat has created buckling concrete on LaGrange. A similar occurence happened Saturday, but the Illinois Department of Transportation was able to fix it.

Additional details and possible updates concerning this road hazard issue can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

Reasons For High Level Of Motor-Vehicle Deaths In The U.S.

Motor-vehicle deaths and the national trends is discussed in the February 16, 2018 Wall Street Journal article titled “U.S. Road-Death Rates Remain Near 10-Year High.”   The article discusses trends in fatal vehicle accidents, as well as technologies that are utilized to improve driving safety.

Notable excerpts include:

U.S. motor-vehicle deaths remained near decade-high levels in 2017, an indication U.S. roadways aren’t getting any safer, even as auto makers equip cars with more safety gear and many other developed countries make notable strides in reducing highway fatalities.
The National Safety Council said Thursday traffic-related fatalities hit 40,100 last year, the second year in a row the 40,000 mark was surpassed.
Among the issues mentioned in the article that are causing the increase in fatalities is increased miles driven as well as distracted driving.  [On this site, the accidents caused by distracted driving are discussed on the “Distracted Driving Accidents” page.]
Among the safety features that are mentioned in the article are blind spot alert, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist (lka.)  Statistics as to how many vehicles sold have these technologies are shown in the article.
Another issue that is discussed in the article is that of drug-impaired driving.  An excerpt from the article:
NHTSA in March will launch a campaign against drug-impaired driving, which it has identified as key to reducing traffic fatalities. “We know that many people switch between use of alcohol and illicit drugs, or consume them together, and we need to consider both,” Heidi King, the agency’s de facto chief, said during the hearing before a House panel.
On this site, that traffic safety issue and how it impacts Will County is discussed on the “Vehicle Accidents Involving Drivers Under The Influence Of Drugs” page.  As seen on that page, accidents in which the driver is impaired by drug use (often referred to as “drugged driving”) has been increasing in the Chicago area and has led to many accidents.  The injuries in many of these accidents are serious in nature, and some had led to fatalities.

Seat Belts As An Injury Prevention Measure

Wearing a seat belt continues to be among the best ways to prevent accident injuries should a crash occur.  The many benefits of wearing a seat belt – as well as the types of adverse outcomes that can occur if a seat belt is not being worn during a vehicle accident – is discussed on the “Seat Belts As An Injury Preventative Measure” page.  As discussed on that page, one of the primary benefits of wearing a seat belt is that by doing so a person is far less likely to be ejected during a vehicle accident.  For those unaware, being ejected from a vehicle means that the vehicle occupant is partially or fully thrown from the vehicle.  As also discussed, should someone be ejected from the vehicle, a broad range of serious accident injuries can occur, and often these injuries lead to fatalities.

That page also highlights various Will County accidents in which vehicle ejections have occurred.  These accidents – most of which have been fatal – have occurred in Troy Township, unincorporated Manhattan Township, Channahon, Channahon Township, near Matteson, and near Bolingbrook.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) issued a media release on November 21, 2017 titled “IDOT, ISP to Motorists:  Survive the Thanksgiving Drive.” (pdf)  Among statistics cited in the release are those regarding the percentage of fatal crashes in which vehicle occupants are not wearing seat belts at the time of a crash.

Notable excerpts include:

IDOT is partnering with the Illinois State Police and more than 150 law enforcement agencies to increase patrols and checkpoints throughout the state. The enforcement effort began Nov. 17 and runs through the early morning hours of Nov. 27. A high concentration of patrols will occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., when seat-belt use declines and a higher percentage of alcohol related crashes and fatalities occur.

Though the seat-belt usage rate in Illinois in 2016 was 93 percent, those who travel unbuckled represent a large percentage of traffic-related fatalities. Of the 1,078 people who died in 2016 crashes, only 57 percent were wearing their seat belt. Illinois law requires that all vehicle occupants wear seat belts. Not wearing a seat belt drastically increases the occupant’s risk of being injured or killed in the event of a crash.

Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.