Failing to Yield to EMS: A Serious Problem in Chicago

Failing to yield for emergency vehicles has become a serious problem in Chicago, putting EMS workers, passengers, patients, and other motorists at risk of serious injury or death. Critical seconds are lost when drivers fail to yield to EMS vehicles. When failure to yield causes a crash, the people at the accident scene aren’t the only ones who suffer. The people waiting for help to arrive sometimes pay with their lives.

“Scott’s Law” is in Effect in Chicago

Since 2003, Scott’s Law has been in effect throughout Illinois. This law requires motorists to yield to emergency vehicles that are using flashing lights and sirens. It was named to honor Chicago firefighter Lt. Scott Gillen who was killed in the line of duty when hit by a passing motorist.

Under Scott’s Law, motorists must attempt to slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle parked alongside the road and change to a lane away from the vehicle. If it is not possible to change lanes because of traffic, the driver must slow down and proceed with caution. Drivers who fail to do this will be subject to a moving violation with a mandatory fine between $100 to $10,000. The higher amount applies if an accident is caused by the driver’s failure to yield.

Failing to yield also applies to drivers who fail to give the right of way to approaching emergency vehicles with flashing lights or sirens. Drivers must immediately move to the right-hand edge of the road and not block an intersection to allow emergency vehicles to safely pass. When emergency vehicles are approaching intersections, drivers should not enter until after EMS has passed through.

Violators who cause an accident because of failing to yield to emergency vehicles are subject to a $10,000 fine. Drivers may also be subject to additional civil or criminal penalties, including suspension of driving privileges ranging from 90 days for property damage, to 180 days if injuries are caused, and up to two years if the accident causes a fatality.

Protecting a Victim’s Right to Recover Damages

EMS workers, pedestrians, and other motorists who are injured because of an auto accident caused by a negligent driver are entitled to compensation for their injuries. After an accident, victims should:

  • Call 911 to report the accident
  • Seek immediate medical treatment
  • Never admit any fault
  • Gather evidence, including witness statements and contact information, along with accident information
  • Notify the insurance company