Another Illinois State Trooper was critically injured in a crash along I-55 on Monday, marking the sixth Scott’s Law related crash so far in 2021 involving the Illinois State Police; and the second in two days. Amidst this ever-present danger on Illinois roadways, the Move Over Task Force delivered a report on February 11 detailing their study of the causes of Move Over crashes and violations and proposing ways to protect law enforcement, emergency responders and all motorists.
The Move Over Law, also known as Scott’s Law, requires drivers to change lanes when approaching stationary emergency vehicles, including all highway maintenance vehicles displaying flashing lights, and any stationary vehicle with their hazard lights activated. The law also states, if changing lanes is not possible or unsafe, drivers are required to proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle and leave a safe distance until they have safely passed the stationary vehicle.
“Monday’s crash along I-55 is another tragic reminder of how fragile life is and how every person who gets behind the wheel has a responsibility to take Scott’s Law seriously,” said State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore. “I urge local residents to consider their own driving habits and – if they have a new driver in their home – to sit down with their teen or young adult to talk about Scott’s Law and how we can all keep each other safe on the road.”
The Move Over Task Force was formed in the wake of the roadside deaths of two Illinois State Police (ISP) Troopers Brooke Jones-Story and Christopher Lambert in 2019. The crashes were the result of motorists’ failure to comply with the Move Over law. Comprised of 17 members and chaired by Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly, the task force met five times throughout 2020 to find ways to educate drivers, promote compliance and prevent further tragedies.
The Move Over Task Force recommendations include:
- Adding improvements to the existing Illinois’ Move Over Law. As written, the law requires vehicles to make a lane change (Move Over) from the stationary authorized emergency vehicle. If a lane change is not available, vehicles must reduce their speed. The Task Force believes for vehicles to “proceed with due caution,” they should always reduce speed. Therefore, laws should say “Move Over AND Slow Down, as opposed to Move Over OR Slow Down.
- Inclusion of distracted driving as an aggravating factor for violations of the Move Over Law.
- Continued support of federal legislation, such as the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act. The Task Force agrees “Move Over” laws should be a new national safety priority in addition to existing federal grant program to increase public awareness
- More flexibility within the Illinois Procurement Code to make public safety-informed decisions on what is best for first responders when it comes to the health and safety of the public. The Task Force recommends the General Assembly pass legislation to encourage swifter acquisition of necessary public safety technology and equipment in the Illinois Procurement Code.
- Encourage the Illinois Department of Transportation to amend crash reports to capture “Move Over” law crashes and the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts to amend traffic citations to include a box to denote “Move Over” law violations. This would allow the better, more precise collection of data across all law enforcement agencies.
- Encourage all organizations with traffic safety-oriented missions to continue their efforts educating the public on the Move Over laws and to continue to research and develop new technology and evaluate what other law enforcement agencies are doing to mitigate the risk.
On January 1, 2020, the violations for Illinois’ Move Over (Scott’s) Law increased. Fines are now no less than $250 for a first offense and no less than $750 for a subsequent offense. If the violation involves property damage, the violator’s driver’s license will be suspended for a mandatory period of anywhere between 3 to 12 months. If the violation results in an injury to another person, the violator’s driver’s license will be suspended for a mandatory period of anywhere between 6 months and two years.
In 2019, the Illinois State Police reported 72 squad car crashes, with 27 of those crashes related to Move Over violations. The ISP issued 6.570 citations and 3,627 warnings statewide for Move Over violations in 2019. To see details on Move Over crashes involving ISP personnel, please go to: https://isp.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=8fbb1df8739049029a01443f844d1934