Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law,” has its inception in a tragic event. In December 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed while assisting at a crash scene on a Chicago expressway. A passing car, driving too fast and too close to the crash scene, lost control just as it was passing Gillen’s parked fire truck, striking the Lieutenant and fatally injuring him.

So prompted the passing of Scott’s Law, which requires all drivers in Illinois to slow down and, if possible, change lanes when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing. This certainly seems reasonable, especially when passing by a major crash scene with closed lanes, fire trucks, and ambulances like the one Lieutenant Scott Gillen was involved in. However, Scott’s Law applies in all situations where an emergency or municipal vehicle is parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing.

THE STATUTE READS: When a stationary authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall proceed with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle. If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, the driver must reduce his speed and proceed with due caution past the emergency vehicle. An “authorized emergency vehicle” is any vehicle authorized to be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties. Note that this definition encompasses even those vehicles that are not strictly for emergency use, such as vehicles and equipment used by construction workers, maintenance crews, surveyors, and some tow trucks. Passenger vehicles parked with their hazard lights flashing do not count as “emergency vehicles,” although you should still use caution when passing such a vehicle since its driver may on the road changing a tire or otherwise tending to his automobile.

If you are driving anywhere in Illinois and see a vehicle with flashing, rotating or oscillating lights parked up ahead of you, move over a lane (if you can) to give the parked vehicle a safer space. If you cannot safely change lanes, or if you are on a two-lane road, slow down and proceed past the emergency vehicle with caution.

The number of “authorized” vehicle encounters has dramatically increased this year. In just the last three months there have been 16 reported incidents.

Because of this recent spike in collisions with law enforcement vehicles and officers, including the crash that just killed ISP Trooper Brooke Jones-Story. Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) championed Senate Bill 947, which would require the Secretary of State to include information about Scott’s Law in every vehicle registration notice it sends to motorists. The Bill passed the Senate with unanimous support and is now in the House for consideration.

Representative John Cabello (R-Rockford) is suggesting the penalty for violators of Scott’s Law to be bumped up to a class four felony for first time offenders. Sentencing guidelines for that level of felony warrant one-to-three years in prison.

NOTE: If their lights are flashing, give them space.

The attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll are proven at getting justice for victims of these horrible and sometimes life changing incidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in a situation like this, contact Kaveny + Kroll.