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A Fatal Beach Park Crash Reminds Us of the Power of Scott’s Law

A Fatal Beach Park Crash Reminds Us of the Power of Scott’s LawAnother family is in mourning this week after their loved ones died in a head-on collision in Beach Park. Jose Hernandez was killed after a Jeep, which was illegally passing a tow truck, crashed into his car head-on. Hernandez’s stepsons were critically injured in the crash.

According to WGN 9, the Jeep driver “was traveling northbound on Green Bay Road. The woman was illegally passing a tow truck and was traveling north in the southbound lanes of traffic.” She hit Hernandez’s car, then spun out and hit the tow truck. She then hit a fourth car that was traveling south. Both children were transported to hospitals: one to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and one to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. The Jeep driver and her passenger, and the driver and passenger in the fourth car, suffered minor injuries. The tow truck driver suffered no injuries at all.

Head-on collisions are some of the deadliest crashes there are, even if they are rare. Even when people do survive, the risk of serious injury is great. All of us at Gainsberg Law are hoping for a swift and full recovery of both boys. The loss of their stepfather is tragic enough, without being compounded by a lifelong injury.

Was this a wrong-way crash?

Yes, but not the typical type of wrong-way crash. Green Bay Road is largely a one-lane route, with occasional turning lanes near intersections. There are few traffic lights, and the shoulders are narrow, too, so it is safe to assume that the tow truck could stick out partially into the road. The collision occurred around 6:45, about 40 minutes after sundown.

It is safe to assume that this was not a typical wrong-way crash, where someone misread a sign or experienced pedal confusion. Based on what the news says, the driver of the Jeep hit Hernandez’s car head-on with enough force to critically injure two children, and to fatally injure the driver. The crash is still under investigation.

Do you have to move over for trucks?

Under Scott’s Law, sometimes called the “move over law,” drivers are required to reduce their speed and change lanes (if possible) to avoid emergency vehicles. As of 2017, emergency vehicles are any vehicles with “oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights” and/or sirens, which include police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and tow trucks. If you are traveling near an emergency vehicle, you are expected to proceed with due caution. Failure to do so can lead to heft fines and potential jail time, if someone gets hurt or dies.

In short, drivers must treat tow trucks with the same respect they treat cop cars.

Updates to Scott’s Law

Scott’s Law’s primary goal is to protect emergency workers and first responders. It has been amended multiple times over the past 20 years, and has saved countless lives, but Illinois State Police still reports thousands of move over violations each year. According to the latest Move Over Task Force report, “in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, traffic flow decreased and the Illinois State Police mission was altered; however, the Illinois State Police reports the following enforcement totals: 1,808 citations and 1,776 written warnings (as of November 2020).” To combat this scourge, Governor JB Pritzker recently signed into a law a bipartisan bill that strengthened Scott’s Law, “allowing judges to issue community service among other penalties to those violating the law… clarifying the scope of Scott’s Law and one creating a database of mental health programs for first responders.”

What Saturday’s tragic accident teaches us is that Scott’s Law does more than protect emergency and first responders; it protects all of us on the road. We urge you to take this traffic rule seriously. Doing so can save more than one life.

The Chicago car accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law represent individuals and families who are injured by negligent drivers. We also help people file wrongful death claims when their loved ones are killed. To learn more about our services, please call 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form.