SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst has introduced legislation to suspend a driver’s license for a year if a motorist is convicted of causing serious injuries or the death of a person in crashes as a result of failing to yield the right of way.

On Wednesday, Parkhurst presented her bill to the House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee.

It addresses crashes like those that have occurred in the past few years at Lehigh Road and Illinois Route 115.

Mason’s Law is named after Mason Knorr, who died as a result of a collision at Lehigh and 2950N in Iroquois County for the same reasons as the collisions at Illinois Route 115, Parkhurst said.

“Mason’s Law came from the request of the surviving family of Mason Knorr,” Parkhurst said. “Unfortunately, there are many collisions along Lehigh Road, especially by State Route 115, where trucks or other travelers do not yield the right of way and cause very serious injuries and even death, as was the case of Mason Knorr.

“Many constituents complained about serious injuries occurring in these collisions where only a small traffic fine was imposed.”

On Aug. 22, 2018, Knorr, 24, of rural Clifton, died when his pickup truck traveling westbound of Clifton Slab (2950N Road) was involved in a crash with a semi traveling northbound on Lehigh, which continues into Iroquois County as 700E Road.

The road known as Clifton Slab has the right of way. Lehigh Road has a posted stop sign.

The proposed legislation provides someone convicted of failing to yield the right of way that causes a serious injury to have their driver’s license suspended for one year without administrative hearing. The Secretary of State’s office, who supports the bill, was consulted because the bill affects traffic laws.

State law already provides for revocation of a driver’s license for violation of traffic laws resulting in death.

The intersection

Last fall, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Kankakee County Highway Department and county and state law enforcement met with Parkhurst about the intersection and what could be done to prevent accidents.

Parkhurst has visited the intersection.

Upgrades include

• Three sets of rumble strips leading to the stop signs on Lehigh Road.

• Double stop signs at the intersection along with an information sign that cross traffic does not stop.

• Information signs with red flags attached that warn of the upcoming stop signs.

• Stop bars have been painted on the pavement at the stops on each side of Lehigh Road.

• IDOT added flashing yellow LED lights to the stop signs at the intersection last December.

Intersection upgrades are the call of IDOT.

In the past two years, semitractor-trailer traffic has increased on Lehigh Road.

GPS systems route drivers heading to Joliet from Interstate 57 to get off at Ashkum, take Illinois 116 to Lehigh Road to Route 17 and then onto Joliet.

Driver inattention seems to be a reason for the accidents. There still are intersections in the county where you must stop.

“When you look at the (accident) reports, there are a lot of drivers or most of them who are from out of the area,” Kankakee County Engineer Mark Rogers said last November.

Earlier accidents

On Sept. 16, 2018, an 85-year-old man from Herscher was seriously injured when the pickup he was driving eastbound on Route 115 was struck by a northbound semitractor trailer that failed to stop on Lehigh Road. The driver of the semi was issued a ticket for failure to yield at an intersection.

On Aug. 2, 2018, a 24-year-old Herscher man was seriously injured at the same intersection.

His van was eastbound on Illinois 115 when it was hit by a semi traveling southbound on Lehigh that failed to stop at the stop sign. The semi driver was issued a ticket by state police for failure to yield at a stopped intersection.

The last fatal accident at the intersection occurred Aug. 15, 2016.

Juanita M. Tincher, 71, of Kankakee, was killed when the 2014 Dodge van she was driving on Route 115 crashed into a 2014 Mercedes heading southbound on Lehigh Road that failed to stop at a stop sign. The crash sent the two vehicles into the path of an eastbound semitractor-trailer.

The driver of the Mercedes, Pankaj C. Modi, of Oswego, was ticketed for failing to stop at an intersection.


Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is jbonty@daily-journal.com.

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