Study Shows Improving Economy Leads To Traffic Congestion

I posted last week about the Texas A & M study that revealed the potential dangers of red light cameras in Chicago. The same study also revealed that the improving economy has led to more motorists on the road, which in turn, will lead to more car accidents .

The study revealed that commuters in Chicago and Washington suffered the most, losing 70 hours a year to traffic delays. Nationally, the average commuter wasted 34 hours in traffic in 2009 — up from 14 hours in 1982, the first year for which researchers have records.

The good news, researchers say, is that traffic also is a sign of prosperity.  “The tie between the economy and congestion is not unexpected,” said Tim Lomax, a research engineer with the institute.  “What we’ve seen on the regional level is mirrored in these numbers on the national level,” Lomax said.

Also like the economy, traffic still is not at pre-recession levels.  The study found that in 2007, the nation wasted 5.2 billion hours in traffic. A year later, when the recession peaked, the number plummeted to 4.6 billion hours. As the economy slowly recovered in 2009, the number climbed to 4.8 billion hours lost to traffic delays.

As always, try to keep a cool head while on the road and facing increased traffic jams. It will help keep you and other drivers safer. 

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , the call Chicago car accident lawyer , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

Are Chicago Red Light Cameras Causing More Traffic Accidents?

The Huffingon Post reported recently that the much maligned red light cameras in Chicago could be making busy intersections more dangerous.  A Texas A&M study has shown that the red light cameras – – which result in shorter yellow lights – – are causing more car accidents .

The Texas A&M study found that “adding one second of yellow decreases crashes 35 to 40 percent and violations by 60 percent.” Longer yellows give drivers more time to stop, making them both less likely to crash and less likely to be caught running a red. Yellow lights across the city are timed at exactly three seconds, the exact minimum allowed by state and federal guidelines.  In tandem with the red-light cameras, these short yellows can make drivers hesitant as they approach intersections, and more likely to slam on the brakes when they see a yellow, said Barnet Fagel of the National Motorists’ Association. The cameras, he said in and appearance on “Chicago Tonight” are “making people drive under pressure and tension, and having their foot poised over the brake pedal.”  Fagel claims to have identified lights around the city where the yellow lights hovers around two-and-a-half seconds.

It will be interesting to see if the Illinois Legislature will attempt to ban (or at least limit) red light cameras. They are a revenue maker for cities and for the state, but the question the legislature must ask is if they are making intersections safer, which should have been the purpose for installing these cameras in the first place.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  on your personal injury  case at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Legislation Update: Illinois Workers’ Rights Remain Protected As Workers Compensation Bill Not Called

Last week a major victory occurred for the rights of Illinois workers.  The Illinois legislature decided not to call a bill that would have dramatically stripped the Workers Compensation rights of Illinois workers .

The bill in question would have made the following dramatic changes to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act :

Limiting The Choice Of Doctor

This proposed legislation limits the injured worker’s right to choose a doctor by automatically sending them to the company doctor of choice.  The “company doctor” has the financial incentive to get the employee back to work as soon as possible, instead of as safely as possible; this means that necessary tests may not get ordered, procedures may not be preformed, and specialist visits may be limited.

Utilization Review (UR)

UR creates presumption in favor of UR which will be almost impossible to overcome.  It takes away treating doctors discretion to determine the best treatment for an injured worker.  This is a one-size-fits-all solution to an issue that demands individualized attention and treatment.

Changes In Wage Differential Claims

 Significant caps (67 years of age or 5 years) and reviewable for economic change 4 times per year. Wage differential is designed to preserve the earning power of an employee injured at work by partially making up the difference in the lost wages after the injury.  These workers no longer have the ability or opportunity to earn the wage they once did.  Wage beneficial benefits help make up some of the difference of lost wages due to a workplace injury.

Reduction of Medical Fee Schedule

This legislation reduces the medical fee schedule for procedures and services rendered by doctors and hospitals.  This reduction will result in fewer doctors wanting to treat patients on worker’s compensation.

Fortunately this bill was never called for a vote by the Illinois Speaker of the House at the end of the legislative session. The above proposals would have chipped away the two (2) most important worker protections: proper medical treatment and compensation to make the injured worker whole. The Illinois Workers Compensation Act was designed a long time ago to protect injured workers  and it is our duty as Illinois residents to continue to protect these rights.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a work accident  or believe they have an Illinois Workers Compensation  case, then call Chicago work comp attorney , Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation  or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Advanced Safety Features Are Becoming Available On Affordable Cars

The Tampa Bay Online newspaper published an interesting article recently, which discussed the advanced safety features that are now added to affordable cars. In the past, it took years for the less expensive vehicles to catch up with the Merecdes and BMWs of the world when it came to features like the air bag.

According to the article, vehicles like the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6 are including numerous safety features that are preventing car accidents. Below are some of the new features available that are no longer costing consumers an arm and a leg:

Traction/Stability Control

Traction control detects if a wheel slips, and then automatically compensates by giving more power to other wheels, helping the car avoid spinning out of control. Electronic Stability Control takes this a step further, and analyzes the shape and weight of the car, and even the terrain or road incline, to control all four brakes better and prevent a spinout or rollover.

ESC can cut the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by 49 percent, and cut the risk of a rollover in an SUV by 75 percent, according to research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Blind Spot Cameras

Wide-angle cameras around the car link to a dashboard display, and show you everything that’s happening around the car. Backup cameras in the rear help avoid the nightmare scenario of hitting a child you didn’t know was in the driveway behind you.

Child Control Features

Look for more features to come on the market that try to control teen drivers. Ford’s new MyKey system uses specific keys for each driver, and can limit things like top speed or stereo volume. (It can even block explicit channels on satellite radio.)

For all-electric car versions, the system will adjust projected range based on that driver’s past habits – heavy or light on the accelerator. And for parents, you may want to consider new phone apps or messaging systems that keep closer ties on young drivers.

Slow Vehicle Sensors

Some new model cars have forward-looking sensors that detect when a car ahead has slowed suddenly. The system then mathematically calculates if you can’t avoid the crash without help and sends up a warning.

Ford and Lincoln have systems that will flash red lights on your dashboard and increase sensitivity on the brakes. Volvo’s “City Safety” system will automatically apply the brakes – handy in the scenario when you’re distracted with a spilled cup of coffee or a kid in the back seat.

Sleeping Sensors

“Attention Assist” that detects the minor steering shifts common in drowsy drivers, and bleeps an alarm if the system suspects you’re nodding off.

A number of car makers have started installing “lane drift” sensors in upper-tier cars. Generally, they use forward-looking cameras to track lane markers on the road, and warn the driver if they drift out of their lane, sometimes with a bleep or a small vibration on the steering wheel. Mercedes, Buick, Cadillac, Hyundai, Volvo and others now offer this feature, so look for this soon on lower-priced models.

These are all new features that are now or will soon be available to the middle class and should help prevent car crashes .

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Drowsy Driving A Major Cause Of Car Accidents

I have written numerous times about different causes of car accidents , including: distracting (texting and cell phone use); drinking and driving; winter weather; and even eating and driving. Another concern that has drawn recent attention is drowsy drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a new study showing that the tragedy of drowsy driving is more pervasive than shown in previous estimates. Their study shows that drowsy driving involves about one in six deadly  vehicle crashes ; one in eight crashes resulting in occupant hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.

The study also found that –

  • Vehicles in which the driver was accompanied by a passenger were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy driving related crash.
  • More than half (55%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said that it occurred on a high-speed divided highway.
  • More than half (59%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said they had been driving for less than an hour before falling asleep; only one in five reported they had been driving for three hours or longer.
  • More than one in four drivers (26%) who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year reported that it had occurred between noon and 5 p.m.
  • Men (52%) were much more likely than women (30%) to report having ever fallen asleep while driving; men (14%) were also more likely than women (8%) to admit having done so in the past year.
  • Drivers age 24 and younger were most likely to report having fallen asleep in the past year, but they were least likely to report having ever fallen asleep. This is consistent with other studies that have found younger drivers to have a higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

There are some very easy steps drivers can take to help prevent people from driving while drowsy:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive, so be sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) the night before you go.
  • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks.
  • It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
  • Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
  • Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
  • Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
  • Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.

I will add that I do not believe drinking coffee or energy drinks are not a substitute for a good night’s sleep.  Click here  to read the entire press release from drowsy driving prevention organization.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

2011 Brings New Traffic Laws In Illinois

The new year is upon and there a few changes for Chicago drivers. Despite numerous complaints about red light cameras, and their effectiveness, they have not been eliminated in Illinois. Despite the complaints the Illinois legislature did make some changes. First, cities will have to post the locations of red-light cameras on the internet, and violations must be reviewed by a law enforcement officer.

Probably the biggest change is for excessive speeding violations. Motorists who are caught driving over 40 miles per hour the speed limit are no longer eligible for Court supervision.* Supervision is a fair method of punishment that Courts use for traffic violations and other crimes. As long as the violator pays the fine and court costs and does not commit any other traffic violations or crimes during the supervision period (typically 1 to 6 months), then the charge is dismissed from their record as if it never occurred.**
    
*Please note that the States or City Attorney or even the judge does have the discretion to amend a ticket to a lower speed violation so that the driver does  become Supervision available. This is not guaranteed but the odds are better if the driver has a clean driving record (i.e. no previous tickets or none within the last few years)

 * *Please note that supervision is becomes a little more complicated when a commercial drivers license (CDL) is involved as supervision is considered a conviction for CDL drivers and they can lose their license and ability to drive commercially if they receive supervision.

Be safe on the roads and take note of these changes in the law. If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

IDOT Stresses Safe Winter Driving

We are in the heart of winter here in the Midwest and The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is stressing the importance of safe driving when the weather turns ugly.  The Mcdonoughvoice.com reported recently about IDOT’s effort to inform drivers about safety hazards and steps to take to protect yourself and other drivers.

First, it is important to be wary of snow plows and salt trucks on the road.  IDOT spokesman Brian Williamson said 30 percent of the traffic crashes involving IDOT snow plows and salt trucks are caused by vehicles following too closely.  “Slow down for yourselves and slow down for the folks who are trying to clear the roads; it just makes good sense,” said District 14 Trooper and Safety Education Officer Ed Howard

“Vehicle preparation is very important,” he said. “Make sure your windshield washer fluid is full and your wiper (blades are in good condition). Also, have a plan; let others know where you’re going and what route you’ll be taking.”

Howard said drivers should check all of the road condition hotlines for the areas they’ll be driving to.
He said District 14 gets frequent calls from the public asking about travel conditions.

Be careful out there, and if you can, take public transportation if it’s available for you. If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron Bryant , for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.