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The Illinois State Police vehicle involved in a March 8 crash

Another day, another state squad car in a crash.

So far this year, at least a dozen Illinois State Police cars and SUVs have been in crashes that could've been avoided by other drivers paying attention or following Scott's Law.

The most recent, in the Chicago suburbs, occurred when an alleged drunk driver hit an occupied police car parked on a highway crossover. Both drivers required hospital treatment.

It's not just state police troopers involved in such accidents. Firefighters, rescue workers, city and county officers and tow-truck operators all have fallen victim to people texting while driving, failing to move over for emergency vehicles with their lights on, drunk or drugged driving, speeding or other inattentive behaviors.

The average-size new car weighs more than 4,000 pounds. Using a 2,000-pound car as an example, Sciencing.com explains that such a car traveling at 60 mph has a collision force of about 550 times the car's weight when it crashes into a wall.

Think about that for a minute. It's no wonder cars crumple like aluminum cans when they hit an immovable object. Now think about the force projected upon the people in the car. Seat belts, air bags and better-designed frames greatly mitigate the danger, but they are not fail-proof.

Our emergency personnel put themselves in harm's way every time they go to work. They could be shot, die in a roof collapse, punched by a suspect or otherwise injured. There's no need for them — or any of us, for that matter — to be put in harm's way by someone who shouldn't be behind the wheel or who pays little attention to what's outside their car.

Driving is a privilege. Staying alive is a right.

Remember that the next time you're behind the wheel. Drive safely, drive defensively, and follow traffic laws. They are in place to keep everyone safe.

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