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August 9, 2001

Ryan Signs Scott's Law; Toughens Penalties for Reckless Driving near Emergency Vehicles

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today with Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood signed House Bill 180, also known as "Scott's Law." Named for slain Chicago Firefighter Lt. Scott Gillen, the bill raises the penalties for drivers who fail to yield to emergency vehicles or who cause accidents or injury to personnel at emergency scenes. Offenders could be fined up to $10,000 and their license suspended for up to two years if the violation results in the death of another person.

"It may seem like common sense to use extra caution when approaching stopped emergency vehicles with flashers," Gov. Ryan said. "But all too often our emergency personnel have to watch out for reckless or inattentive drivers at the same time they are trying to provide aid to someone in need."

Last December, Lt. Scott Gillen was struck and killed while assisting at an accident scene on the Chicago expressway. Lt. L.C. "Elsie" Merrill, also of the Chicago Fire Department, was killed last April when a motorist failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with his truck.

"The goal of Scott's Law is to protect those who protect us," Lt. Gov. Wood said. "It's my hope that with this law, and the renewed awareness this legislation has brought will put an end to the tragedies like the Gillen and Merrill families have experienced."

Between January 1, 1998 to December 1, 2000, 88 Illinois State Police vehicles were either rear-ended or sideswiped by another driver and 50 officers were injured while their emergency vehicles were parked with emergency lights flashing.

"Far too many police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel have been killed or injured in Illinois while working at highway crash scenes," said Illinois State Police Director Sam W. Nolen. "This new law will create a safer working environment for our emergency service providers who put their lives at risk for the citizens of our state each and every day."

HB 180 was sponsored in the House by Representatives Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia; Timothy Osmond, R-Antioch; Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago; Larry McKeon, D-Chicago; and Senators Walter Dudycz, R-Chicago; Tony Munoz, D-Chicago; Kathleen Parker, R-Northbrook; Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo; and George Shadid, D-Edwards.


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