To launch the new “Give Them Distance” campaign, the governor gathered today with leaders from the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police, AAA, the Mid-West Truckers Association and Secretary of State Jesse White’s office. The campaign launch took place at the O’Hare Oasis in Schiller Park.
“Awareness of this common-sense law is so important to our first-responders — and to anyone who has to pull off the side of the road to fix a flat or deal with engine trouble,” Rauner said. “Too many lives are being lost on our roadways. We want to make sure drivers know to slow down and move over for vehicles with flashing lights.”
The state’s Move Over Law, also known as Scott’s Law, was first enacted in 2002 after Lt. Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway while assisting at a crash scene in December 2000. It requires motorists approaching stopped emergency vehicles with lights flashing to slow down and move over, changing lanes if possible to make extra room.
While most Illinois motorists are aware of the law as it pertains to emergency vehicles, many might not know that it was expanded in January 2017 to include any vehicle with hazard lights flashing.
Drivers who fail to comply face serious penalties, including a fine of up to $10,000, two-year suspension of driving privileges and possible jail time.
“Making the roads of Illinois the safest ever is one of my top priorities, and the Move Over law helps us to do that,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “Every day, emergency personnel are working to serve and protect us. We need to do our part to help keep them safe by yielding the right-of-way to all emergency vehicles and taking precautionary measures for disabled vehicles.
“We don’t want drivers to be involved in crashes because they weren’t paying attention to emergency responders.”
“Within the last five years, two Illinois State Police troopers were killed in the line of duty and several others injured when motorists failed to move over for emergency vehicles,” said ISP Director Leo Schmitz. “These tragedies and countless others across the nation could have been prevented if drivers remained alert and simply followed the laws designed to keep them and other motorists safe.”
“The Move Over law reinforces basic, common-sense rules you should always practice when encountering any vehicle on the side of the road anywhere,” agreed Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Slow down, proceed with caution and change lanes if you can.”
Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said he hopes motorists take heed.
“We’re calling on other leaders, communities and drivers throughout Illinois to join us and spread the word,” he said.
Illinois was home to 1,073 traffic fatalities in 2016, the first time the state topped 1,000 since 2008, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The number of fatalities stood at 1,015 through Tuesday, Dec. 5, of this year, according to provisional IDOT data.
Drivers are encouraged to visit www.GiveThemDistance.com for more information on this safe-driving initiative.