STEPHENSON COUNTY (WREX) — The man accused of hitting and killing Illinois State Trooper Brooke Jones-Story appeared in court for the first time Friday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint against Craig Dittmar, he shouldn’t have been driving his truck in the first place. It says Dittmar was too tired to drive and should have pulled over to rest.
Dave Willis, a truck driving instructor with Rock Valley College, says after hearing about the crash he’s not surprised investigators say fatigue played a role.
“It happens all the time,” he says.
Willis says these tragedies are completely preventable. Commercial drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours before they have to take a 10 hour break. And if they start to feel tired, the best thing they can do is pull off the road and sleep.
“If they get the signs of fatigue, drifting no remembering the last three miles kind of thing,” Willis says. “If they don’t get off the road while they still have a chance, one of those drifts, just like the one in Freeport, is going to end up in a collision.”
But, that criminal complaint doesn’t only accuse Dittmar of feeling tired. It also says he didn’t move over when he was supposed to.
“We have to do something,” Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park says. “We can’t just sit back and say well, ‘It’s an anomaly and it will correct its self again.'”
Now, local lawmakers say they are working to up the penalties for people who chose not to move over.
“It won’t be a criminal offense if they violate Scott’s Law,” Cabello says. “It will be a heavy, heavy fine.”
Cabello says they should have a better idea of what those will be in the next two weeks. Lawmakers say they hope to pass that legislation by the end of May.