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How Illinois drivers can keep workers safe on roadways

In September 2018, a construction worker was struck and killed by a car that drove into closed lanes on Interstate 294. This incident occurred only a few days before the anniversary of a similar crash that resulted in the death of another worker on the same interstate in 2017. The Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois sees 4,800 work zone crashes every year.

Although construction season is beginning to wind down for the winter, it is important to remember that construction workers are not the only people conducting work on roadways. Emergency personnel, like police officers, paramedics and firefighters, also do their jobs on roadways. Scott’s Law, which aims to protect workers on the road, was created in memory of Lt. Scott Gillen, a firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department who was killed after being hit by a car in 2000 while he was responding to an emergency.

You probably already know to pull over to allow a moving emergency vehicle to pass if it has sirens or oscillating lights on. Scott’s Law, otherwise known as the “move over” law, addresses what to do when driving near a stationary emergency or maintenance vehicle on a roadway.

When approaching a stationary vehicle with sirens or oscillating lights running:

  • Be cautious
  • Slow down
  • Move over, if possible

These rules apply when you approach any stationary vehicle with flashing emergency lights, including maintenance trucks. The flashing lights could be a variety of colors including red, red and white, red and blue, blue, amber or yellow.

If, for example, a police car is parked on the right shoulder of a four-lane divided highway with its oscillating lights running and you don’t slow down or move into an open space in the left lane, you would be breaking Scott’s Law. If you were unable to move to the left lane, or there was no other lane to move to, but you slowed down as you cautiously passed the police car, you would have been within the law.

Remember that as a driver you must share the road with a variety of other drivers, including people at work. It is worth the time to be cautious, slow down and move over because by driving unsafely, you risk your life and the lives of those you share the road with. 

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