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Editorial: Slow down for Scott Gillen

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When a car or truck is stopped on the side of a highway, hazard lights flashing, what do you do?

Slow down, of course. Maybe even change lanes to give the stopped vehicle a wide berth.

As it turns out, though, not all drivers use such common sense, a failure that has prompted a revision in a state law, effective the first day of 2017. It’s an excellent change, one we’d like to call attention to as Chicago’s winter weather — slick roads and snow-blurred vision — slogs on.

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As of Sunday, drivers are required to slow down or change lanes when passing any vehicle stopped by the side of the road with lights flashing. Previously, the law required vehicles to slow down or move over only when it was an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, such as an ambulance or police car. Offenders can be fined up to $10,000.

The original legislation, Scott’s Law, was enacted in 2002 after a Chicago firefighter, Lt. Scott Gillen, was killed when a man who was drunk ran his vehicle over lit emergency flares on the shoulder of Bishop Ford Freeway, pinning Gillen against a firetruck. At Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn later, just before going into surgery, Lt. Gillen held and stared at his daughter’s photo.

Let’s slow down for every stopped vehicle, whether an ambulance or a family SUV. We are all somebody’s son or daughter.

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