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New Illinois Safe Driving Laws in 2017

Safe DrivingNew laws became effective in Illinois that should bring safe driving to the Land of Lincoln. Most Illinois drivers are familiar with “Scott’s Law.” The law requires drivers to change lanes or reduce their speed if a stationary emergency vehicle with lights activated. Usually, the emergency vehicles are pulled over the side of the road on the highway. Then drivers usually switch to the other lane when passing. The law aims to reduce the injuries of emergency vehicle drivers from  driver passing the vehicles. A new law extends the same courtesy to drivers pulled over with their hazardous lights on.

How Scott’s Law Affects Safe Driving

Named after a firefighter of the Chicago Fire Department, Lt. Scott Gillen, Illinois enacted Scott’s Law in 2000. Lt. Scott Gillen was assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Many call Scott’s Law the “Move Over” law because it requires drivers to essentially move over. If a driver breaks Scott’s Law, they could face up to $10,000 in fines and a suspended license.

Why has the law changed?

2016 became the deadliest year since 2008 this past year on Illinois roads. As with most driving laws, the main purpose of the law is to ensure that drivers get to their destinations safely. Police officers around Illinois will crack down on unsafe drivers. Their efforts will make sure educated drivers keep roads safer.

As a matter of fact, traffic fatalities reached 1,073 in 2016. The new year brings new goals, and one of the goals is to make Illinois roads safer. Some drivers already move over when there is a vehicle parked on the side of the road, so they will not be affected by the change. In the end, this law should be very beneficial. For instance, if a driver changes their left front tire on the shoulder, vehicles should move over. Now that there is a law requiring this, drivers can feel safer when they need to fix a tire.

What Other Safe Driving Laws Changed in 2017?

8213432552_d4d9b72269_oAnother law that changed in the new year: fines have doubled for cars who attempt to go around lowered railroad crossings has changed. The first offense will cost the driver $500, and any offense after that will cost the driver $1,000. This law has come into effect to keep drivers off the railroad tracks while the gate is coming down. If something were to happen while the driver is on the railroad tracks, it could result in a serious injury or even death. This law is further incentive for drivers to keep off the railroad tracks when the crossing guard is coming down. Additionally, if a driver is driving without insurance, and continue to drive without insurance, the driver could lose their vehicle in 2017.

The last law that has changed is the law that effects driving in school zones. Drivers who speed 26 miles per hour but less than 35 miles per hour through a school or work zone is now a class B misdemeanor, and going faster than 35 miles per hour is a class A misdemeanor and could land a driver in jail.

Safe Driving in 2017

We can only hope that these new laws will bring safer roads in Illinois. Since more than 1,000 people died in car accidents this past year, something needed to change. The fines are the last thing that people should worry about when looking at these new laws. Instead, drivers should abide by the new laws, and in the end, these laws could possibly save lives. It is a new year, so Illinois drivers should make a resolution to make the streets safer.

Summer Vacations Road Trip with Children

road tripWe all remember jumping into the station wagon for a road trip with our family to a vacation house, a hotel, or a national park. But after a long day taking care of children, exhausted parents get distracted while driving. Children create a lot of distraction when making a lot of noise and the parent who is driving tries to calm down the children. With distracting children, so full of energy and stuffed into a car, keep your eyes on the road to prevent the unexpected and reduce the potential of a car accident. Keep children from being a distraction and try to keep them as happy as possible in the car.

Before you leave for your road trip

Drivers most likely do not have to worry about icy roads or snow drifts anymore, but drivers can take certain steps to make sure their trips are full of fun.

Check these important car components before hitting the road:

  • Brakes
  • Fluid levels
  • Tires
  • Wiper blades
  • Lights

If all of these things are in order, your car may be ready for a road trip. It cannot hurt to go into a mechanic to make sure that everything is in working order. If the mechanic gives you the “OK”, then prepare the family for the trip.

Preparing your children for the road trip

road tripOne study suggests that children are a greater cause of distracted driving than cell phones. Try to avoid these common distracting acts that parents engage in:

  • Turning around to look at a child in the back seat which accounts for 76 percent of the distracted driving that involves children
  • Conversing with a child which accounts for 16 percent of the distracted driving that involves chidlren
  • Grabbing food or drink for a child which accounts for 7 percent.

The study found that during a 16 minute car ride with a child, parents looked away from the road for a total of three minutes and 22 seconds. A lot can happen in that time, but there are steps parents can take to avoid being distracted by children.

Keep your eyes on the road

It might be tempting to look into the rearview window to see why a child is misbehaving, but this should be avoided no matter what is going on in the backseat. If you absolutely need to talk to a child who is misbehaving while you are driving, use the calmest voice you can possibly muster. This will ensure that your children and others on the road will be safe. If you are traveling with a spouse, you can rely on the spouse to put things in order. If that does not work, then it is best to pull over the car at a rest stop and sort things out. It is better to arrive late than to cause an accident.

How do I keep my kids happy so they do not distract me while driving?

family road tripChildren are so full of energy that they can easily get bored and restless during car rides. Remember a few things to keep children entertained and to limit the amount of distractions that children can cause.

  • Bring snacks. Whether it is just a short trip or a long one, plenty of snacks will keep children happy and entertained. Just make sure the snacks are not too messy.
  • Plan your bathroom and eating breaks. It is best not to drive more than two or three hours at a time while traveling with younger children.
  • Ensure that your children are comfortable. Dress your children in loose clothing, bring pillows, and socks if their feet get cold.
  • Play their favorite music. Even if you hate it.
  • Keep everything you need in a convenient place. Parents get distracted a lot because they have to reach for stuff and try to find things. If children know where things are, then that eliminates the need for a driving parent to go digging through bags.
  • Pack electronics. DVD players and phones can keep children entertained for hours.
  • Listen to audio books.

Have fun and stay safe

Road trips can be very fun, and a child will remember family road trips for the rest of their lives. Make sure that there are no road bumps in your road trip this summer by ensuring that your car is functioning properly and that you remain focused on the road. Keep your children happy during those long trips, and do not be afraid to stop frequently if need be. Remember, it is better to arrive somewhere late if that means you have to make a few extra stops.

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Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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