SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Police is reminding drivers to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles working on the side of the road in honor of Scott’s Law Day.
“The best thing we can stress is slow your speed down, increase your following distance as you approach emergency vehicles, yield as far away as you can to enhance the safety of the public safety person,” Lieutenant Craig Pool, the operations officer for ISP District Nine, said.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is also warning drivers to look out for roadway workers.
“Stay away from the orange trucks, the snow plows to give them good distance as well as those that are responding to motorists that are in need,” Scott Swinford, the deputy director of IEMA, said. “Please get in the other lane and give them a lot of space as they do their work.”
In 2017, the state passed Scott’s Law. It was named after a Chicago firefighter killed by a drunk driver while working on an expressway.
This year, there have been 25 violations of the law, slightly up from last year.
With the blowing snow and frigid temperatures, ISP wants drivers to take extra precautions if they see first responders helping stranded drivers. (The agency has not reported any Scott’s Law violations with this winter storm so far.)
“We train our officers to do a passenger search or site approach in our training academy to prevent them from being near the driving lanes to help minimize their exposure to traffic,” Pool said. “But still, when you’re dealing with a lot of slide offs, a lot of crashes and stuff like that, it is stressful being out there because you’re worried about your safety all the time.”
Swinford also wants drivers to be mindful of emergency vehicles.
“Recovery operations and assistance operations on the roadway are one of the most dangerous situations that our responders face and the work itself is difficult enough, especially in these conditions,” Swinford said.
Drivers who violate Scott’s Law could end up paying a fine anywhere from $250 to $10,000.