According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 126 officers died by being struck by a motor vehicle in the last decade. On average, 2 emergency responders per day are struck by passing vehicles. This issue has unfortunately gained attention recently with the tragic death of Illinois State Police Trooper Chris Lambert, who was struck by a car while assisting motorists on January 12. To help prevent accidents like this from occurring, all 50 states have a version on Scott's Law (which is also known as the Move Over Law).
Scott's Law was put in place to add a "buffer zone" between motor vehicles and various emergency workers. It requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when approaching any vehicle with its lights flashing. This law protects not only the emergency responders, but also the motorists they are trying to assist. Scott's Law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2000. A violation of this law could cost up to $10,000 in fines and a suspended license.
IF YOU SEE A VEHICLE ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD:
1. Reduce your speed
2. Change lanes if possible
3. Proceed with due caution
People often associate this law with police and fire vehicles but it also includes commercial trucks and cars that are lawfully equipped with amber or yellow lights. Examples of covered vehicles include: police, fire, EMT, tow trucks, roadway maintenance vehicles. My best advice is whenever you see a vehicle on the side of the road, particularly with flashing lights, be sure to slow down, change lanes if it is safe to do so, and use extra caution in that area.
Next time you're driving and notice an emergency or maintenance vehicle on the side of the road doing their job, please give them room and slow down. It’s the law and it could save a life.
Huntley Safety 1st is the monthly education series written by the staff of the Huntley Police Department. On the first of each month, we provide citizens with information on a different public safety related issue.