State Representative Tom Weber (R- Lake Villa) is gratified to announce that his legislation to change the language in numerous state statutes, from “accident” to the word “crash”, was recently signed into law, and is a step in the right direction.
Four years ago today, on June 10th, 2018, 23-year-old Austin Lockwood, of McHenry, was killed by a drunk driver. Austin’s mom, Sheila, contacted Representative Weber about the many injustices her family faced surrounding Austin’s death.
“I want to thank Sheila for her tireless advocacy in looking for justice and for change after her son’s and other victim’s senseless deaths. Part of that advocacy I am proud to say was recently signed into law,” Rep. Weber said. “House Bill 5496, now Public Act 102-982, amends numerous State Acts to change the terminology so that it reflects the nature of vehicular incidents more accurately.”
“Sheila’s testimony in committee to the other legislators was crucial in driving home the reasoning behind the bill,” said Rep. Weber. “When people see a bill that simply changes a word, they don’t always understand the full impact it will have. Words matter in the law, and these words mattered to the victims’”
Sheila Lockwood stated, “Words are really important. The law in 2018 called my son’s death an accident, but that clearly didn’t apply in his case, and it doesn’t apply in most cases. The driver had 100% responsibility. Impaired driving, driving recklessly, etc. it is all preventable. It is not an accident when there is a choice; calling it an accident removes accountability. Driving is not a right; it is a privilege and a responsibility.”
Representative Weber’s legislation will clarify in the law that crashes are most often human error and encourage drivers to think twice about the actions they take behind the wheel.
Despite significantly less people on the road during 2020 and 2021, fatal crashes increased 16% and 29% respectively, killing a total of 2537 in Illinois. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle crash deaths are at a sixteen year high, increasing over 10% in the U.S.
The legislation was supported by the A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), Active Transportation Alliance, Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM), Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD), and Illinois Collaboration on Youth.