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This Independence Day Obey Scott’s Law: Slow Down and Move Over for First Responders

Jay Johnson

July 4th is Independence Day. It is a day we celebrate the freedom we all enjoy in this country. It is a time for picnics, cookouts, fireworks, parades, and spending time with our family and friends. It can also be a very dangerous day.

Many of us will hit the roads in our vehicles to travel both near and far for these Independence Day celebrations. With lower gas prices, even more of us will be on the roads. Our first responders will also be on these roads, risking injury and sometimes death to help and protect us as we travel. When we see first responders assisting motorist on the side of the road, we need to slow down and move over to allow them the space they need to safely do their jobs. We need to obey “Scott’s Law.”

Scott’s Law exist to protect first responders who are attending to traffic stops or helping others along the side of roads. Scott’s Law, Illinois’ move over law, is named after Chicago firefighter Lieutenant Scott Gillen, who died on December 23, 2000, while responding to a traffic accident. A drunk driver failed to move over despite the flashing lights of emergency vehicles assisting at a crash site that Lt. Gillen was working. This drunk driver struck and killed Lt. Gillen.

In response to this and other senseless tragedies, the Illinois Legislature enacted Scott’s Law. Scott’s Law requires that driver’s approaching stopped emergency vehicles with lights flashing, slow down, proceed with caution, yield the right of way, and change to lanes not adjacent to emergency vehicles if possible. This law’s protection extends to highway maintenance workers, too. Violators of Scott’s Law face fines of up to $10,000 and a two-year license suspension.

Despite this law, too many drivers still ignore the flashing lights. This year alone, dozens of Illinois first responders have been struck while responding to traffic stops or accidents. Several of these have resulted in senseless deaths.

We all want to have fun this Fourth of July. So, when you see first responders at the side of the road or when you enter construction zones, please slow down, move over, and give these people the space they need to safely do their job. They, too, want to have fun and enjoy time with friends and family. To all our first responders, be safe and have a great Fourth of July. Thank you for all that you do to keep us safe and free. God bless America. God bless our first responders.

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