NTSB Head Urges Obama Administration To Make Safety Changes On Trains

The  Associated Press reported
yesterday that the National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is strongly
urging the Obama administration to order immediate changes to trains that haul
crude oil. Concern about the safe transport
of highly flammable oil and ethanol were heightened after a runaway oil train
derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in
Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more
than 1.3 million gallons of crude oil from the booming Bakken region of North
Dakota and Montana. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed
in resulting inferno.

There have been eight oil train accidents in the U.S. and Canada in the past year, including several that
created spectacular fires. Most were in lightly populated areas, although one
crash and fire in December occurred less than two miles from the town of
Casselton, N.D. 

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated
Wednesday, “In addition to moving forward on updating tank car
regulations, we have taken immediate action to issue multiple safety
advisories, conduct investigations, and reach agreements with the rail industry
to reduce speeds, utilize new braking technology and improve first responder
training — an unprecedented, comprehensive approach.”

The issue it appears at this point
is who will fund the upgrades and how the tanker upgrades will implement. There
appears to be a lack of consensus between the oil companies, train companies
and train manufacturers. 

I agree with the NTSB here as the
writing is on the wall for changes. What happens when there is another accident
and more people are injured or die and the evidence shows that the faulty
tankers, if replaced, could have mitigated the damages? The answer is clear:
the oil, train and manufacturing companies will all be on the hook for any
personal injuries, wrongful death or property damages. There could also be a
strong argument for punitive damages since the companies all knew (for a long
period of time) that they needed to improve the quality of the oil tankers
being hauled across the country.

If you or someone you love has been
injured in an Illinois train crash or Chicago train accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at 312-588-3384 for a free legalconsultation

Chicago Ranks 4th Worst City In AllState’s America’s Best Drivers Report

For nine years AllState has been
studying which cities (large and small) have the drivers most likely to be in
car accident. Chicago ranked tied for fourth with Houston among big cities with
at least one million people. The 2013 study states that Chicago drivers will, on
average, be involved a car accident every eight years.  Below is the top
ten list of cities with their years between collisions.

Phoenix, 9.8 years
between collisions

San Diego, 8.7 years
San Antonio, 8.2 years
Chicago, 8 years
Houston, 8 years
Dallas, 7.4 years
New York City, 7.3 years
Los Angeles, 6.7 years
Philadelphia, 6.0 years

Allstate arrived at
the numbers by examining its claims in America’s 200 largest cities. The report defined
a crash as any accident that resulted in a damage claim. Allstate accounts for
about 10 percent of the country’s auto policies.

This is really no surprise as
Chicago is annually rated in the top two or three worst cities for traffic
congestion. It makes sense that the more time you spend in your car due to
traffic jams and the more drivers around you will result in a higher likelihood
of a car crash. This just reminds those of us who live and drive in Chicago
must always be wary of those around us behind the wheel in order to avoid a
vehicle collision.

If you or
someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a freelegal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

GM Class Action Lawsuit Have Added Air Bag Maker As Additional Defendant

The Chicago Tribune
reported today that plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against General
Motors, based on the faulty ignition recall, has now added airbag manufacturer,
Continental AG, as an additional defendant.

Continental made airbag
systems for the recalled cars, including sensor 
that determine if and when the airbags go off in an accident, according
to the suit.

The case is among dozens
of proposed class actions that have been filed by customers accusing GM of
concealing its knowledge of the defect for more than a decades, putting
plaintiffs at risk of injury and causing them to suffer economic losses on
their cars, including lower resale value.

If jostled or bumped,
the ignition switch can change from the “run” to “accessory” position, shutting
off engines and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.

The lawsuit says that
Continental’s system was defective because the airbag system would shut off
when the key switched positions, and the combination of alleged defects was “particularly
dangerous.”

I have to be honest, I
am really not sure how this benefits the class action lawsuit plaintiffs,
unless they are arguing that the airbags were faulty as well and the plaintiffs
(consumers) need to be reimbursed for this defect in their vehicle as well.
This is definitely news for the 12 wrongful death cases out there that were
allegedly caused by the faulty ignitions. Plaintiffs in those cases now have
multiple fingers to point out at when assessing liability. Attorneys will argue
that not only did the ignition cause these cars to stall, but the airbags did
not respond properly (even though they knew about the issue since 2005) and
those airbags could have saved lives.

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or by a Chicago auto defect, then
call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.  

IL Governor Quinn Announces Bike Transportation Plan

Illinois Governor Quinn, along with
Illinois Transportation Secretary, Ann Schneider, announced today Illinois’
first bike transportation plan via press release and from his twitter
feed. The bike plan provides more than 200
recommendations and action items to enhance IDOT’s ability to provide safe and
cost-effective accommodations for cyclists across Illinois. The comprehensive
recommendations address a variety of topics including facility design and
maintenance, network gaps, grant funding programs, safety education and
enforcement, and internal governance and coordination. In addition, the plan
includes performance measures designed to evaluate progress towards implementation.

Although the
website isn’t very specific about different recommendations and
implementations, it did provide the following areas that the plan will address:

·        
Bicycling related planning and
policy recommendations,

·        
Bikeway safety, design and maintenance
recommendations,

·        
Regional-scale bikeway network
recommendations,

·        
Bikeway network implementation and
prioritization recommendations,

·        
State bicycling performance
measures,

·        
Education, outreach and enforcement
recommendations, and

·        
Funding recommendations

 

  Once area I do like and look forward
to seeing specific recommendations in education, outreach   and enforcement. I
would hope this would include recommendations for safety education. Those     of us
who live and work in Chicago, we know that the city is packed with vehicles and
bicyclists. I think a plan that would educate drivers and bicyclists to
coincide safely while honoring traffic    codes would be incredibly fruitful for
everyone.

 

  If you or someone you love has been
injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago car crash,       then contact Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-   614-1076.

“Smoking Gun” Memo Released In General Motors Recall Case

General Motors has been
in the news quite a bit the past several weeks due to a recall on a defectiveignition part on many of its’ vehicles. GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including the: Chevrolet Cobalt;
Saturn Ion; and other Saturn and Pontiac models. The cars’ ignitions could slip
out of the “on” position, cutting power to the vehicle. There have been 13
deaths reported. GM has recalled those vehicles, and also disclosed that
defective parts may have been used in earlier repairs on those vehicles. Last
week, GM said it would replace ignition lock cylinders “and cut, and if
necessary, reprogram new keys.”The cost of GM’s recall, originally set at $300
million, has now ballooned to $1.3 billion, including some other
vehicles. 

Forbes magazine reported last week that key memo that
was issued in 2006 points out when and how the mistake with the ignition part
was made. Dated May 27, 2006, the memo includes a document that explains
information that supported GM’s part change, and includes GM’s approval to make
the change, according to the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee,
which released more than 200,000 pages of documents.

One
page of the memo was released previously, but that page has been updated with
additional information, and the fax cover sheet makes it clear who made the
fateful GM decision. It cites GM Ray DeGiorgio, who has been placed on leave by
GM, as knowing about the change to the ignition part, and allowing the switch
to happen without the typical step of creating a new part number. Engineers
told 
Automotive News that the step was a
“cardinal sin’ in product design, and GM Chief Executive Mary Barra was
roundly criticized for the action during Congressional testimony last week.

GM is
going to see multiple lawsuits against. First, suits will be brought for the
wrongful deaths of the drivers and/or passengers involved in car accidents
caused by the ignition failures. They will also see consumer class action
lawsuits brought by all those who owned the vehicles and will require
replacements and repairs for the defective parts.

If you
or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or as a result
of a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron
Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076. 

IL House Passes Legislation That Regulates Chicago Ride Share Companies

I wrote recently about
certain steps taken by Chicago officials that regulate ride share companies
like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. Specifically, the city made it a requirement for
all of these companies to carry excess or umbrella insurance for their drivers
that would cover for accidents while driving around looking for fares or
picking up customers. This was a positive step and all of the companies put out
statements that they would comply. 

The taxi companies in
Chicago were not happy and though more regulations were needed and they have
helped push through Illinois HB 4075, which states that all drivers (for
ride share companies) would be required to undergo background checks, vehicle
safety checks and have commercial insurance. Those who drive more than 18 hours
per week would need licenses and have to follow stricter city ordinances. I
think it is fair to say that taxi companies are not happy to be losing their
market share to companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The bill will now go to
the Senate for a vote and if it passes, would be sent to Governor Quinn for his
signature.

In response to the
passage in the house, Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, released
the following statement.”The passage of HB4075 in its current form
destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for
Chicago’s rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in
Chicago.” 

I will be following this
closely to see if there are any amendments or changes to the bill in the Senate
and whether it even passes.

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then
call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Reports That Blue Line Train Traveled Too Fast For Emergency Brake

The Chicago Tribune reported today that the National Traffic
Safety Board (“NTSB”) concluded that the CTA Blue Line crash at O’Hare airport was driving too fast for the emergency brake to properly
trigger and prevent the train accident. The NTSB’s preliminary report into the cause of the early-morning accident on March
24 said the distance between a bumper post at the end of the line and a trip
arm in the tracks designed to activate the train’s emergency braking system was
“too short to stop the train” due to its speed of roughly 26 mph.

Asked
why the CTA had not set a slower speed limit in the tunnel leading to the
station, or positioned the emergency-stop device further out from the platforms
where trains berth, safety board spokesman Terry Williams said “those questions
are part of our investigation and some of the issues we are looking into.’’

The CTA
two weeks ago lowered the speed limit of trains entering the O’Hare station
from 25 mph to 15 mph and moved the fixed trip arm further away from the bumper
post, to provide a total of 61 feet in stopping distance.

For
those following this case it appears that the CTA will be on the hook for
passenger injuries based on, at least, three main factors. First, the train operator
admitted she nodded off immediately prior to the train crash and the CTA is
responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. Second, the train
operator was driving the blue line at too high of a speed, which did not allow
the emergency brake to properly trigger. Again, the CTA is responsible for negligent
acts of its employees. Third, they set the speed limit too high for the
emergency brake to properly stop incoming trains. These are three allegations that can be made and seem the most obvious from the media reports, but as the investigation continues, there will likely be more allegations of negligence by the CTA. 

Although
this train accident was terrible and people were injured, I think there are some
positives that can come from this. First, no one died. This derailment and
crash was brutal as the video shows and the fact that there were no deaths and
few critical injuries is a minor miracle. Second, the CTA can now make the
proper corrections to its emergency braking system, which will hopefully
prevent this from happening again.

If you
or someone you love has been injured in a CTA train accident, Chicago busaccident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney,
Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Paving Way For More Bike Lanes

It’s been a year or two
since I have written about bike lanes in Chicago. As I mentioned in the past,
Chicago has been at the forefront in carving out bike only lanes. Specifically,
a long stretch of Dearborn Street in Chicago’s loop is specified for
bicyclists. The Chicago Tribune reported last week that more
“bike only” lanes are coming to the city this spring. 

 On
the North Side, a lane is planned for North Broadway Avenue between Montrose
and Foster avenues. In the Loop, Harrison Street will get a bike lane from
Desplaines Street to Wabash Avenue. On the West Side, a lane is scheduled to go
in on Lake Street from Austin Boulevard to Central Park Avenue.

In
addition, the city plans 15 more miles of buffer-protected bike lanes this
spring. The painted lanes are planned for California Avenue between Augusta
Boulevard and North Avenue; Street from 26th to 31st streets and Stony Island
Avenue from 56th to 63rd streets, according to transportation
officials.

The
city also is in the planning phase for 30 more miles of bike projects for the
end of this year and early 2015, including Randolph Street from Michigan Avenue
to the lakefront trail

This
is a great move by the city as we know that vehicle traffic in Chicago is some
of the worst in the city. The fewer cars on the road the better for everyone.
But both drivers and bicyclists need to be wary of each other by following all
the traffic laws and respecting each others’ space. Bicycle accidents can be
some of the most dangerous and deadly, so bikers and drivers are better off
proceeding with caution when driving near each other in the busy downtown loop. 

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation. 

Train Operator Involved In Blue Line Crash Fired By The CTA

The CTA Blue Line crash which occurred last Monday at O’Hare airport has been all over the news the last few weeks. One area of contention that I discussed earlier this week was the condition of the train operator at the time of the train accident. There were conflicting reports on how many hours she had worked in the days prior to the crash. The operator freely admitted to National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) that she had dozed off prior to the crash and that she had also nodded off to sleep back while working back in February. Well, the New York Daily News is reporting today that the train operator has been fired. It is unclear whether this will affect the lawsuits that have been filed against the CTA on behalf of some of the injured passengers. The NTSB is also awaiting investigation results on why the emergency braking systems did not stop the train immediately prior to the accident. I’m sure there will be more news to report in the weeks to come on this always changing case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago bus accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 773-456-8858.