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Pritzker unveils bill to “strengthen Scott’s Law”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

* Press release excerpt…

In order to prevent more tragic losses of emergency responders and highway workers, Governor JB Pritzker and state lawmakers unveiled legislation Tuesday to strengthen Scott’s Law and understand how to better stop more senseless roadway fatalities.

“Scott’s Law says that drivers approaching a vehicle with their hazard lights on must slow down and move over. The legislation we’re announcing today enhances penalties for those who don’t obey the law and raises awareness for those who don’t even know Scott’s Law exists,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “No one’s time or convenience is worth more than the lives of our state’s heroes.”

This year, Troopers Christopher Lambert, Brooke Jones-Story and Gerald Ellis paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the line of duty. The law was initially passed in memory of Lieutenant Scott Gillen.

The proposal is addressed with two separate pieces of legislation. The first, SB 1862, takes several steps to strengthen Scott’s Law:

    Expands Scott’s Law protections to include a stationary authorized vehicle with oscillating lights, first responders, IDOT workers, law enforcement officers and any individual authorized to be on the highway within the scope of their employment or job duties;

    Increases the minimum fine to $250 for a first violation of Scott’s Law and to $750 for a second or subsequent violation;

    Adds $250 assessment fee for any violation of Scott’s Law to be deposited into a new dedicated fund to produce driver education materials, called the Scott’s Law Fund;

    Increases criminal penalty to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if violation results in damage to another vehicle or a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to one to three years in prison, if violation results in an injury or death of another person;

    Amends the Criminal Code of 2012 to include firefighter and emergency medical service personnel while acting within the scope of their official duties;

    Adds aggravating factors to reckless homicide charges if Scott’s Law was violated;

    Requires the Secretary of State to include written question on Scott’s Law in driver’s license test.

The second piece of legislation, SB 2038, creates a Move Over Task Force to study the issue of violations of Scott’s Law, disabled vehicle law, and stationary authorized emergency vehicle law, with attention to the causes of the violations and ways to protect law enforcement and emergency responders. […]

Members of the Task Force must serve without compensation and must meet no fewer than three times. Additionally, the Task Force must present its report and recommendations to the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2020.

“Enough is enough. Three first responders have lost their lives while working on our roadways this year, and we’re cracking down on reckless drivers to prevent more senseless tragedies,” said Rep. Marcus C. Evans, the chief House sponsor of the package of legislation. “This legislation will keep our brave public servants safe and save lives.”

“As a former police officer, I know the life-threatening situations facing law enforcement every day, and I’m proud this legislation will protect and serve our brave men and women in uniform,” said Sen. Tony Munoz, the chief Senate sponsor of the package of legislation. “We can’t afford to lose any more lives, so I implore all drivers to slow down and move over when you see first responders on the roads.”

“This legislation is one way we’re working to protect the protectors,” said Rep. John Cabello. “Too many first responders have paid the ultimate price, and we are honoring their legacy by preventing even more tragic losses among our state’s heroes.”

“As Moline firefighter and paramedic, keeping our first responders safe is a deeply personal mission for me,” said Sen. Neil Anderson. “To the public servants that work on our roadways, know that we’re doing all we can to keep you safe and ensure you can return home to your families. You deserve nothing less.”

The legislation will be introduced by Rep. Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D-Chicago) and Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) and will be co-sponsored by Sen. Neil Anderson (R- Andalusia) and Reps. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) and Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea).

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments »
  1. - Mama - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    I feel that the State should provide health insurance coverage for the workers who have to contract with IDOT to work on our highways.


  2. - SAP - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 2:58 pm:

    I think this is worthwhile if for no other reason than to bring Scott’s Law to the attention of the motoring public.


  3. - Maximus - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Scenario: A police car is stopped and has it’s lights on in the shoulder on a tollway in rush hour. Nobody is supposed to use the right-most lane so everyone has to move over to the second and third lane? Im not sure I’m interpreting the law correctly. In busy rush hour I dont think there is going to be room to move over.


  4. - Merica - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Since this law became a headline in the media, unnecessarily, in my opinion, because the tragedies were unrelated to Scott’s Law, I’ve been taking notice of my attempts to do what
    I’ve already always done, which is move-over when anyone is on the shoulder of the highway.

    I think actual ticketed enforcement of this law is a bad idea. The problem is that on highways with heavy truck traffic, it’s impossible to see whether a vehicle is on the shoulder ahead of you as the trucks block your view. On a recent trip up and down the state there were several incidents where I passed a vehicle on the shoulder but didn’t have time to move over because I didn’t see the vehicle on the shoulder because a truck was blocking my view. Some will say that if you see a truck switch lanes that is a sign you should move over. My retort to that is trucks are always switching lanes because truck drivers have the misconception that they are saving money traveling in the tailwind of another truck. We see trucks switching lanes constantly. Another problem is that you have unmarked emergency vehicles. And, the biggest problem, is that if this action becomes a huge fine, the law will create accidents as people swerve into lanes and take more abrupt action to avoid a fine.


  5. - NoGifts - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:27 pm:

    You don’t HAVE to move over - it’s slow down or move over if possible.
    The “Move Over” Law — Scott’s law mandates that when approaching any police or other emergency vehicle stopped along the roadway, you must:

    -proceed with due caution
    -change lanes if possible
    -reduce your speed
    An authorized emergency vehicle under Scott’s Law, includes ANY vehicle authorized by law to be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights under Section 12-215 of this Code, while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties.


  6. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    Is SB1862 the right bill number?


  7. - No relation - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:35 pm:

    Maximus - I believe the law states if a driver can not move over, as in the situation you described, they can slow down and proceed cautiously.


  8. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:36 pm:

    No. Don’t do it. The law already triggers when it’s police, fire or anyone with their blinkers on. Adding more categories when they may be unmarked or civilian cars is ridiculous. Also, how about banning state police from setting speed traps while parked without lights at night in the left turn lane on a four or six lane highway (a quite common occurrence on Illinois Route 13).

    State police numbers are down 40 percent in the last two decades and had been dropping before that I think. More laws on our highways without more enforcement just doesn’t work.

    Also, governors who never get behind the wheel should keep their mouths shut when it comes to driving. Doesn’t matter what party’s in office. Zip it.


  9. - Red Ketcher - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:38 pm:

    Some Self Help would be for ISP to get rid of the Motorcycles - They are extremely difficukt to see on side of road - Escalates Risk Greatly


  10. - AC - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    Quantifying what it means to reduce your speed would be helpful.


  11. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    Unfortunately I think this is going to be like when the seatbelt law first took effect, it’s going to take several years of continuous statewide ticketing before everyone gets with the program.


  12. - Shemp - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 3:53 pm:

    Such heavy fines for subjective language. Is this another case where we make people criminals and end up suspending licenses for lack of payment of people who need a license to get to work and make money? Seems a lot of people preach outreach and not punishment for violence, but then we turn around and want punishment to pay for outreach.


  13. - Ok - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 4:33 pm:

    Install on back of every state trooper vehicle moving yellow lighted arrows pointing people to move to the left.

    Along with a camera that is activated when lights are on.

    Ticket for exceeding 35 mph passing such a vehicle in right lane.

    No “stronger penalty” law will do anything. Address the behavior at the point of decision, not at a point in time hundreds of miles away.


  14. - downstate hack - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    Great idea to encourage compliance with trafiic laws but to create yet another special fund for the State government to contol and abuse is nuts.


  15. - Al - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 4:39 pm:

    So after an incident I imagine there is an investigation and interview. State DOT prepares a report which gets compiled into the National Safety Statistics.

    question: are these Scott’s Law violations occurring due to the penalties being too low? Are people texting? Is this going to address the cause? Has the cause of the inattention and lack of compliance been identified? Hmm.
    55 saves lives.


  16. - illinikid - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 4:40 pm:

    Last summer the GA decreased the fined for speeding through a work zone. I wonder how Evans Jr, Munoz, Anderson, Butler, Cabello, and Hoffman voted on that when no one was looking.

    The section of the Illinois Vehicle Code pertaining to work zone speed limits (625 ILCS 5/11-605.1) has been amended by Public Act 100-987. The amendment changes the minimum fine for work zone speeding violations from
    $375 to $250 effective July 1, 2019.


  17. - Commander Norton - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    I also have concerns about the heavy fines and the subjectivity and whether this will become another excuse to pull people over (like the infamous broken tail light). It is horrible that three troopers have been killed this year, but I don’t know if this approach is going to save lives or just create other harms. My other problem with it is that if we’re going to have this law and this strict enforcement, it should apply to any person (or vehicle that reasonably appears to be occupied) on the side of the highway. Sure, they might be pulled over for no good reason - but they might have been forced to stop there by a flat tire or other mechanical difficulty, unable to make it to the next exit. (And either way, they don’t deserve to die.) Are those motorists and passengers worthy of less protection? While I understand that first responders find themselves in higher risk situations than the general public thanks to their jobs, I am wary of penalty enhancements that send the message that their lives and safety are worth more.


  18. - Kayak - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 5:50 pm:

    I’ve noticed the weigh stations scattered all over the state are shuttered. Maybe reopening these facilities would save lives too. Truck inspections should not be done on the shoulder.


  19. - Anon - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 6:47 pm:

    Aren’t most of the deaths and injuries referenced here from drivers veering onto the shoulder? What percentage of the incidents involved an impaired driver? In other words, how often is the issue solely a violation of this law.

    I ask because this is a subjective rather than objective law (did you have room to move over, did you slow down significantly enough) with already high penalties. I know someone pulled over in a sting and prosecutors sought the max 10,000 fine because she allegedly did not slow down enough.


  20. - LINK - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 7:05 pm:

    I hate to add to this but I had a personal experience with a State Trooper a number of years ago. I was on I72 coming back from Quincy around the 21-23 mile marker when I came to the top of a hill and there was a State Trooper on the side (right) of the road with his lights on but no other vehicle there. As he was just over the hill crest, there was limited time to respond.

    This was Black Friday and I had seen a vehicle somewhat tailgating me since the Hannibal exit and as luck would have it, I could not see if he was still there or in my blind spot on the inside lane - I had very limited visibility out the back so he could have been there.

    So I dropped my speed but did not pull over as I was unsure of where that other vehicle was. Needless to say, they had been running stops for that stretch and this trooper pulled me over and ticketed me, even though I explained my situation to him.

    Again, I dropped the speed but though I could not pull over so did not. IMHO He just wanted to give out tickets that day. Not trying to compare to others who injured or killed officers but it was my situation and I felt he abused the law in order to ticket someone.

    Yes, it still sticks in my craw nearly 10 years later…


  21. - DeseDemDose - Tuesday, May 14, 19 @ 10:58 pm:

    Trucks drive in all 3 lanes on a 4 lane highway without any ramifications. It is truly impossible to slide to the right and change lanes when you are jammed next to speeding semis.


  22. - {Sigh} - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 6:47 am:

    Were any females invited to the press conference?


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