Crossing central Illinois, Interstate 55 connects the Chicago metro with St. Louis. Over the holiday season, the corridor sees an increase in truck and passenger vehicle traffic. A recent tragedy near Litchfield provides a reminder to take care over the next few weeks as more people hit the roads to be with family.
The accident occurred on November 26, while an Illinois State Police trooper was completing a routine traffic stop. A passing semi tractor-trailer struck the trooper as he stood along the side of the road. The trooper died at the scene of the accident. The section of highway was closed off for much of the day, so that law enforcement could investigate what happened.
This is the same area of the Interstate where several other accidents have occurred this year. In May, a school bus rear-ended a stopped truck injuring many students. Also, a Megabus blew a tire and hit a bridge, which killed one passenger and injured others.
As the investigation uncovers the cause of the most recent accident, criminal charges could be filed against the driver of the semi truck. Even if the driver did not violate any laws, he could have been negligent in failing to change lanes.
When the negligent conduct of one driver causes the death of another, a civil wrongful death lawsuit may provide a remedy for the family of the person killed. These cases are complex and an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney can explain and assist with the process.
Recently Illinois state police encouraged all drivers on the road over the holidays to be alert for emergency vehicles and remember to move over.
Illinois "Move Over" Law
The law, since 2002, in Illinois requires motorists to move lanes when an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance or squad car has its lights flashing. The law, initially known as "Scott's Law," was enacted after a Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while helping at an Expressway crash.
In the following circumstances, you need to proceed with caution, slow down and change lanes, if at all possible:
- If you see a squad car on the shoulder of the Interstate with its lights flashing while on a traffic stop
- When an ambulance has its emergency lights activated and is responding to a car accident
- Any time a portion of the lane is partially blocked by emergency equipment
The law applies for all authorized emergency vehicles equipped with oscillating, rotating or flashing lights while the operator of the vehicle is doing his or her job.
Violation of the law can result in a fine up to $10,000. If the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the violation becomes an aggravating factor and may affect driving privileges.
Depending on the amount of traffic on the road, it can be difficult to change lanes. In cases where it is impossible to change lanes, drivers can slow down and proceed with caution.
In the most tragic circumstances when a loved one is severely injured or killed in an auto accident, a personal injury attorney can advise of all available remedies. A lawsuit can also bring attention to a dangerous situation and make sure that the same does not happen to another family.