Six state police vehicles hit in a week serves as reminder of Scott’s Law

Between the foot of snow that fell in some areas and the bitter cold that turned all that precipitation icy, it was a rough holiday weekend on Illinois' roads.

That was especially true for members of the Illinois State Police, who saw five parked patrol vehicles struck by passing drivers between last Friday and Monday.

The good news is that none of the state troopers suffered life-threatening injuries.

The bad? State police say at least three of the drivers who hit the squads were violating Scott's Law, aka the Move Over Law, when the crashes occurred. Another is accused of driving under the influence.

We asked Trooper Jayme Bufford of ISP's public information/safety education office what was behind the spate of crashes.

"People know what they're supposed to do. They know they should be slowing down and moving over, but sometimes they're not paying attention," she said. "And, of course, the bad weather doesn't help."

Four of the weekend crashes occurred in the Chicago area, including a pair in the suburbs.

The first occurred about 8:16 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, when a trooper was handling a crash on I-90 in Kane County. The squad car was parked on the left shoulder with its emergency lights on when it was rear-ended by a Honda CRV. The trooper, who was outside the vehicle, and his police dog partner were uninjured. So was the other driver, a 36-year-old Belvidere man who was cited for violating Scott's Law, authorities said.

Five Illinois State Police squads were struck by vehicles as they sat parked along highways between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15, including this one near downstate Marion. The driver of the other vehicle was cited for violating the Move Over Law. Courtesy of Illinois State Police

The second occurred about 4:35 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 290 at Mill Road near Addison. According to state police, a trooper parked his squad on the road to prevent other vehicles from hitting a light pole that had been knocked over in an earlier crash. That's when a Jeep Wrangler slammed into the rear of the patrol vehicle, state police said.

The trooper was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver and passenger of the Jeep were uninjured and charges are pending, state police said.

The other crashes occurred late Sunday afternoon in downstate Marion, Sunday night at Cermak Road and I-94 in Chicago and Monday morning on I-55 in Will County.

The three Scott's Law crashes were the first of 2024 for state police. But not the last.

Early Thursday morning, on a ramp at the I-55/I-80 interchange outside Joliet, a state trooper was stopped while responding to reports of a tire in the roadway. Minutes later the squad was rear-ended by a vehicle that failed to move over, according to state police.

No one was injured, but the other driver, a 63-year-old Bolingbrook man, was ticketed for violating Scott’s Law, state police said.

Named after Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter who was responding to a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2000 when he was killed by a drunk driver, Scott's Law requires drivers to slow down and, if possible, move over a lane when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its warning lights on.

An Illinois State Police trooper escaped injury when his patrol vehicle was rear-ended Monday along I-55 in Will County. The driver who hit him is charged with violating Scott's Law. Courtesy of Illinois State Police

Last year, 21 state police vehicles were hit by drivers later cited for violating the law. It happened 23 times in 2022. The worst year on record was 2019, with 27 crashes, two of which claimed the lives of state troopers.

If safety isn't reason enough to obey the rules, consider this: Violating the Move Over Law carries heavy fines — a minimum $250 and maximum $10,000 for a first offense. And that's if you don't injure anyone. Doing so could land you up in prison for three years

"That's a hefty fine, so pay attention and if you see those emergency lights, slow down and move over," Bufford said.

Senior class

DuPage County is hosting an information session called “Safe from Scams: Protecting Seniors and Their Assets” later this month to teach seniors, their relatives and their caregivers about how to avoid fraud.

Set for 9:30 to 11 a.m. Jan. 31, in the Knuepfer Administration Building on the county campus, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, the program will hit on phone, internet, dating and social media scams.

If you can’t make it in person, the presentation will be livestreamed on the county’s YouTube channel, and saved there for later viewing.

The county’s recorder, treasurer and a cybersecurity analyst, plus representatives from the sheriff’s and state’s attorney’s offices, will be there.

Didn’t see this coming?

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday it is creating a task force to address what to do about what it calls the “dramatic increase” in appeals of pretrial release rulings from the circuit courts.

Made up of justices from each of the state’s five appellate court districts, the panel will examine the rash of appeals and their affect on the appellate courts.They’re due to meet within the next two weeks and issue a report by March.

Under Illinois’ new cashless bail system, defendants who have been denied pretrial release have 14 days to appeal that decision. Cashless bail started Sept. 19.

According to a spokesman for the courts office, it’s the downstate Fourth and Fifth districts that are especially getting slammed. Of the 1,376 appeals filed, 60% are in those districts, which encompass 89 counties.

The First District, which covers Cook County, accounts for 12% of the appeals. The Elgin-based Second District, which includes Kane, McHenry and Lake counties, and the 3rd District, of which DuPage and Will counties are a part, each account for about 14%.

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