By Illinois Radio Network/Jim Moran
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police reported the 27th crash this year that involved a state police squad car that was struck as a result of a Scott’s Law violation as the agency continues to work to educate motorists about the law during what has proven to be a deadly year for troopers.
The weekend traffic crash involving an Illinois State Police squad car was the 27th. Investigators said the most recent crash happened near Quincy while a trooper was helping a stranded motorist. Another vehicle trying to pass a semi-truck lost control and slid into the back of the stopped squad car.
Illinois State Police Public Information Officer Joey Watson said the trooper was outside of the vehicle at the time of the crash and was not injured. State police issued the 31-year-old driver from Quincy a ticket for the Scott’s Law violation and another ticket for failing to reduce speed to avoid a traffic accident.
So far this year, Illinois State Police squad cars have been involved in a total of 71 crashes. Twenty-seven of those involved a violation of Scott’s Law. Three state troopers were killed in crashes this year. By comparison, in all of 2018, there were eight trooper-involved crashes that resulted in a Scott’s Law ticket. In 2017, there were 12 and 2016 there were five.
Watson said with the high number of crashes this year involving Scott’s Law violations, the agency is working to raise awareness of the law. Part of the informational push has included an increase in Scott’s Law traffic enforcement. So far this year, troopers have issued 6,272 Scott’s Law or Move Over tickets.
The Illinois State Police has formed a task force to investigate the spike this year compared to other years. Watson said there doesn’t seem to be a single factor.
“The contributory causes are, unfortunately, all over the board,” he said.
Lawmakers enacted Scott’s Law in 2002 after the death of Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen. He was struck and killed by a drunken driver while working a traffic accident on a Chicago-area expressway. The law requires drivers approaching stopped emergency vehicles to slow down and move over, changing lanes if possible.
Watson said the law was updated to include any stationary vehicle with flashing lights. That includes tow trucks, IDOT vehicles, or any other type of stopped vehicle on the side of the roadway, including stranded motorists with activated hazard lights.
Scott’s Law fines begin at $250 for the first violation and $750 for a second. Fines for violations can go as high as $10,000 and motorists could get a license suspended for up to two years.