Police all over Illinois are cracking down on Scott’s Law violators while those in Lake County in particular are becoming more aggressive.
“Scott’s Law” requires drivers to slow down and move over when they are passing emergency vehicles including fire and police cars and trucks, tow trucks, and highway maintenance vehicles. This law took effect in 2002 and the number of tickets being written each year is climbing. The law was written after Lt. Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter, was struck and killed while working at a traffic accident in 2000. There have been other incidents of death and injuries at these types of accidents since. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund 18 people were killed last year and 14 the year before.
Drivers who get caught violating Scott’s Law can receive a ticket of up to $200 plus traffic school and supervision. Violating the law twice can lead to a discretionary suspension of the driver’s license. In either case if there is property damage or personal injuries penalties can increase up to a $10,000 fine and a three year loss of license.
Part of the reason why this violation is not more often ticketed is because it is hard for a policeman who is stopped with another vehicle to simply jump in his car and take off after a violator. Now in Lake County, though, they are taking a new approach. They are sending out two or three squads to a particular area. If one has pulled a driver over, a second squad pulls up behind and looks out for Scott’s Law violators.
In a related story, on July 30th near Darien, Illinois, a driver was charged with violating Scott’s Law after crashing into the back of a State Police vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road. The trooper who was inside the squad car at the time of the crash had no injuries. Although the driver had a broken leg and some cuts it was determined that his injuries were not life-threatening.
Police in Lake County and other places are just trying to keep their work environment as safe as possible, without unnecessary dangers. People who have been charged with violation say they didn’t know this was law or that they simply weren’t paying enough attention. The consequences of that type of driving could be a disaster waiting to happen.