Illinois State Police conducting 24-hour safety check on tractor-trailers

MARYVILLE, IL (KPLR) – Illinois State Police will be paying close attention to truck drivers as they crack down on truckers who spend too much time on the road. It’s the law enforcement agency’s way of honoring the memory of two troopers killed in the line of duty as well as making the roads safer.

Trooper James Sauter from southern Illinois died in 2013 in a fiery accident near Chicago after his police vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. The truck driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, breaking the law by spending more than 14 hours on the road.

The Illinois State Police’s safety check began at midnight Tuesday and continued for 24 hours. The crackdown, named Operation Sauter, is targeting commercial vehicles, making sure drivers are not on the road more than 70 hours a week.

Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. said another colleague from Troy, Illinois, Trooper Kyle Deatherage, was killed in the line of duty just months before Sauter. Deatherage was standing next to a car during a traffic stop on I-55 just north Litchfield when a tractor-trailer struck and killed him. The truck driver did not slow down or change lanes.

“It's a dedication to those two fallen officers in the line of duty. One of our biggest fears is traffic, when we are out there on the shoulders, people simple don't get over. It's a law call Scott's Law, that if you have time and space, you have to move over if you see (an) emergency vehicle parked stationary with their lights activated,” Trooper Dye said.

This is the second year the agency has conducted the 24-hour safety check period in honor of the fallen officers.