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Since last Saturday, one Illinois state trooper has died, another was injured and a Peoria County deputy was hurt, all because of motorists driving too fast in bad conditions.

When you look out the windshield and it's snowing, slow down. When you see red and blue flashing lights, slow down and move over.

Scott's Law, named for a Chicago firefighter, requires drivers to change lanes (if it is safe to do so) or reduce speed and proceed with caution when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights.

That is in addition to the common-sense driving rules that come into play when the weather is like it has been in the past week: if you have to be on the road, drive slowly, allow plenty of time and distance at intersections, use your headlights to increase visibility, don't make sudden lane changes, don't brake quickly.

Just because it's fun to fishtail down a city street doesn't mean you should.

On Saturday, a state trooper stopped to help at a three-vehicle wreck during a snowstorm in the Chicago suburbs. He parked his car to block traffic, and then was fatally hit by another vehicle.

Early accounts are that the accident was just that. Eerily, it happened very close to the site of a 2013 accident that claimed the life of another trooper, whose stopped squad car with emergency lights was hit by a semi truck.

Then on Tuesday morning, with highways slick from freezing fog, another trooper and the Peoria County deputy were injured when their cars were hit by a semi truck that jackknifed on a slick road.

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How many more people will be hurt or die before the motoring public realizes that "slow down, pull over" isn't just a catchphrase? Especially during bad weather or when road surfaces are in poor condition?

Tow truck drivers, highway construction workers, police, fire and rescue workers can share horror stories of close calls, of motorists who ignore lights, sirens and reduced speed zones. They may be texting (illegal), talking on a cellphone (illegal), driving drugged or drunk (illegal), driving in excess of allowable hours behind the wheel (illegal) or simply are in a hurry, distracted by a kid or — worse — just thoughtless.

The forecast for the next several days calls for more freezing rain and snow that will make driving another challenge. If you must drive, pay attention to your surroundings. It only takes an instant to lose control of your vehicle and run into a ditch, hit a tree or utility pole, damage another car or — worse — injure a pedestrian.

Central Illinois has lost several first responders because of people who haven't followed Scott's Law, even though it's been in effect for 16 years.

It's time to pay attention.

Someone's life depends on it.

-- Lee News Service

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