SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois will have new highway laws in January aimed at strengthening the “move over” law, or Scott’s Law.
The “move over” law was revised in Illinois in 2017 to apply to all vehicles that display flashing emergency lights, including commercial trucks and cars and no longer was limited to authorized emergency vehicles. The law was renamed Scott’s Law after Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by a drunk driver while assisting at an accident.
Earlier this year, Illinois State Police reported over 1,300 violations of the law during a 19-day period.
“There are many disturbing statistics that bring us here, but I will keep the statistics simple today,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly at the bills signing Thursday. “How many troopers an other first responders have been struck by drivers violating the move over law? Too many. How many troopers and first responders have been killed by driver violating the mover over law? Too many.”
Senate Bill 1913 will allow courts to order community service as a form of punishment for violating Scott’s Law, in addition to other penalties.
“Scott’s Law should be common sense, yet every day dozens of people are breaking it and putting officers at risk,” said co-sponsor Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest. “Writing a check for a fine doesn’t seem to be enough for some people, so we need to do all we can to make sure the purpose of this law is heard loud and clear, and we do that by requiring people to give up their free time to do community service work.”
Also on hand for the signing was Lauren Frank, wife of State Trooper Brian Frank, who recalled the night when her husband was struck on the roadside near Joliet.
“I got the phone call that every spouse of a first responder dreads, and all they said was it is bad, but he’s breathing,” said Frank.
Frank remains hospitalized six months after the crash with severe brain injuries. He recently was awarded Officer of the Year by the agency’s criminal patrol team.
House Bill 3656 further clarifies a driver’s duty to respond to an emergency scene on the road. It also establishes the Move Over Early Warning Task Force, which will study how to use 21st-century technology to help drive safely drive through an emergency zone.
Senate Bill 1575 requires the creation of an online resource page with a collection of mental health resources geared toward first responders. It will include crisis services, depression, violence prevention, suicide prevention and substance use.
“We can’t legislate bad people from doing evil things. We can’t stop all the accidents on the highway, but I am going to try,” said co-sponsor Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago.
The laws go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.