Study Shows Teen Drivers Succumb To Distractions More Than Ever

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed nearly 1,700 videos that capture the actions of teen drivers in the moments before a crash. It found that distractions were a factor in nearly 6 of 10 moderate to severe crashes. That’s four times the rate in many previous official estimates that were based on police reports.

AAA examined more than 6,842 videos from cameras mounted in vehicles, showing both the driver and the simultaneous view out the windshield. The videos were provided by a company called Lytx, Inc., which offers programs that use video to coach drivers in improving their behavior and reducing vehicle collisions.

The videos revealed that distractions were involved in 58% of the car crashes. The most common forms of distraction were talking or otherwise engaging with passengers and using a cellphone, including talking, texting and reviewing messages. Other forms of distraction observed in the videos included drivers looking away from the road at something inside the vehicle, 10 percent; looking at something outside the vehicle other than the road ahead, 9 percent; singing or moving to music, 8 percent; grooming, 6 percent; and reaching for an object, 6 percent.

The videos provide “indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of accidents than we previously realized,” said Peter Kissinger, the foundation’s president and CEO. The NHTSA previously reported that only 14% of teen car crashes were caused by all kinds of distractions.

What is the solution to this problem? Drivers of all ages (not just teens) are glued to their phones and unfortunately this includes while being behind the wheel. I have suggested over and over that there should be stiffer penalties for texting or phone use while driving. Should a teen’s license be suspended if they are caught texting and driving? Should there be higher fines? If teens are not afraid of the repercussions that come with texting and driving, then it will be tough to convince them to cease their behavior.

The other alternative could be left to the auto makers. Maybe there is technology on the horizon that would disable all phones in vehicles unless they are in a “hands free” mode.

Regardless, it appears that distracted driving is a much more dangerous issue than first thought, and that legislation and possibly, technology, should be improved.

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

Class Action Status Sought In Lawsuit Against Iowa Traffic Light Company

It was widely reported this week that two (2) women in Iowa have a filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against Gatso USA, which runs the traffic cameras in Des Moines.

The lawsuit says the city’s use of speed and red-light cameras violates their fundamental right to travel granted in the U.S. and Iowa constitutions. It also says it entraps drivers in numerous ways, such as the threat of suspending a driver’s license because a ticket has not been paid.

Earlier this week, the Iowa Department of Transportation found that 10 of Iowa’s 34 traffic enforcement cameras should be shut down because they are not making roads safer. Among those to be shut off are speed cameras located on Interstate Highway 235 in Des Moines, where both Brooks and Bullock have received speeding tickets.

The argument over the constitutionality of red light cameras was heard by the Illinois Supreme Court last summer and the court was split on its’ decision. Thus, the red light cameras remains constitutional in Illinois. 

A class action lawsuit was filed in Illinois last year against Redflex, which is alleging that the company was unjustly enriched by money they made through their contract with the city of Chicago. Redflex employees, along with a city employee, were indicted and charged with fraud based on bribes paid by Redflex to secure the contract. Although different, there is no doubt that citizens and attorneys throughout the country are frustrated with traffic cameras and are looking at every possible avenue to have them terminated.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago traffic accident or a Chicago workers compensation case, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

The Active Transportation Alliance Opposes Proposed Ban On Traffic Cameras

The Chicago Sun Times reported this week that the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking too kindly the recent efforts by aldermen to put an end to red light and speeder cameras. The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve safety and conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians and mass transit users around the city of Chicago.

Last week 14 alderman attempted to pass a bill that would eliminate all red light and speeder cameras by 2018. Though the bill failed, the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking any chances. They are pushing a new initiative called “Vision Zero,” which is based on the principles that no loss of life to traffic accidents is acceptable and that red-light cameras that serve as police force “multipliers” are pivotal tools that can prevent crashes.

Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, told the Sun Times Monday that he’s concerned the debate over red-light cameras has turned into a game of political football that could culminate in the loss of an “important traffic safety tool.”

He noted that, in 2012, there were more than 77,000 reported traffic accidents in Chicago, with 145 people killed and nearly 21,000 seriously injured.

“This is no time to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Burke said. “If it goes away all together, who’s gonna enforce these traffic laws? Who’s gonna be there when motorists are running red lights and putting people in danger?”

“The reality is that most cities don’t have enough police officers to enforce traffic laws. Photo enforcement is a great way to bridge that gap and effectively multiply the power of the police to enforce the law. If the cameras go away, it’s not likely that red lights are gonna be enforced anymore, or enforcement will be spotty, at best.”

I get where Mr. Burke is coming from here and I respect the mission and the efforts of the Active Transportation Alliance. But if you look deeply at the statistics of accidents since red light cameras were implemented in Chicago, you will see that there has been no “net” safety gain from these cameras. Yes, t-bone car crashes have decreased some, but rear-end traffic accidents have actually increased in the intersections where these cameras are located. What is the community benefit, other than money for the city, if the the cameras do not make intersections safer.

It will be interesting to watch what happens in the coming weeks and months. If Rahm Emanuel wins the election as expected, I do not see him putting an end to traffic cameras. He has steadfastly supported them since day one.

If you or someone you love has been seriously 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.

New Study Shows That Device Would Prevent 59,000 Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year

Bloomberg News reported last week that a new University of Michigan Study revealed that if a drunk driving device was installed into every vehicle, it could prevent up to 59,000 traffic fatalities every year. Current ignition interlock technology, which has been around since the 1960s, prevents a vehicle from being started if a driver’s breath registers a certain amount of alcohol. In recent years, some states have mandated their use for convicted drunk drivers.

Typically, this type of device is only required if someone has been charged with a DUI and their license has been suspended for blowing over the legal limit or refusing to blow. For instance, in Illinois, if someone has their license suspended by the secretary of state, they can legally drive during their suspension if the driver pays to have this device installed. Other times, judges can order that this type of device be installed as part of probation for repeat offenders.

It can be assured that this type of technology will seek opposition. First, there will be the cost by automakers and consumers. Will they want to pay for this device and should they be forced to?  Also, it will be interesting to see if there will be any backlash from the ACLU as this could be viewed as an infringement on people’s privacy.

I think safety advocates will view this similar to the seat belt and air bags. Before those two devices who introduced into the marketplace, they were viewed as too expensive and the government pushing too far into what drivers can or cannot do. Obviously, through the years we all know that seat belts and airbags have saved thousands of lives and prevented serious injuries. Further, driving in this country is not a right. Driving is considered a privilege. A privilege that you have to qualify for by passing tests, paying for insurance and following the rules of the road.

University of Michigan’s Injury Center and Transportation Research Institute said in the study, released Thursday, that cost savings from widespread use of ignition interlock technology could outweigh the expense of the devices after three years.

“The goal is to develop a system that can accurately and reliably detect when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit and that could be offered as original equipment in new cars on a voluntary, market-driven basis,” Gordon Trowbridge, a NHTSA spokesman, said in a statement.

“Automakers will have to be convinced, and make sure that the costs of the technology are something that consumers are willing to pay for and they want,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

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

FDA Examining Blue Bell Ice Cream For Alleged Listeria Outbreak

The Washington Post reported this week the Federal Food and Drug Administration is investigating a listeria outbreak in Kansas that may have been caused by Blue Bell ice cream products. Three (3) people have died from the listeria, and a total of five (5) have gotten sick between January 2014 and January 2015. Officials also detected three of those strains in a Texas Blue Bell production plant, where the company is based. Health departments in South Carolina and Texas also found listeria in certain Blue Bell products.

According to the FDA, Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization. Listeriosis, an infection caused by Listeria, can pose major risks for certain populations. Namely, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

Blue Bell Creameries announced it recalled the affected products and had them removed from store shelves. “One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem.”

Blue Bell’s cup, pint and half-gallon products are not affected by this current outbreak. The FDA has warned consumers not to eat any of these products:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bars
  • 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars
  • 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars
  • 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bar

This is obviously a scary situation for people who may have been affected by this product. There is the potential that the families of those who have died could have a wrongful death lawsuit against Blue Bell if they can prove that the listeria bacteria came from their plant and made these people sick. This type of wrongful death lawsuit would be filed as a product liability case as the company is alleged to have put a dangerous or defective product into the stream of commerce. I have not seen any news of lawsuits that were filed against Blue Bell for this outbreak of listeria.

If you or someone you love has been injured from a defective or dangerous product or has a Chicago wrongful death case, then contact Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NHTSA To Focus On Drowsy Driving Prevention

The Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has focused its’ mission in recent years on preventing distracted driving. Multiple campaigns have been introduced to discourage and fight the use of phones while driving. The administration recently announced that, an issue often ignored, is drowsy driving and is an additional issue it would like to combat.

Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently stated: “While not everybody drinks or texts or speeds, lack of sleep is a problem we all face. And falling asleep at the wheel at 70 mph is a recipe for tragedy.”

The NHTSA admits that there is a lack of research and information about lack of sleep and driving. Though Rosekind did report that he estimates that anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent of annual traffic deaths were caused by driver drowsiness or fatigue.  But more recent research by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that up to 1.2 million car crashes are related to drowsy driving and claim 4,000 to 7,000 lives a year, he said.

Part of the campaign will include specific research regarding drowsy driving and exactly how many traffic accidents are caused by lack of sleep. They also plan on researching what specific law are in effect that penalize sleepy drivers. There are a few laws in effect in Arkansas and New Jersey.

I look forward to seeing the results of the research and what exactly they propose to prevent drowsy driving. The obvious answer would be enacting laws that punish people who are driving on a lack of sleep that cause a car accident, especially where the other party is injured. This could be similar to what we have seen regarding distracted driving over the past five (5) years and what we have seen in drinking and driving laws over the last thirty (30) years.

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

No Injuries Reported After Bricks Fall From Loop Building

Several Chicago news outlets reported this morning that several bricks fell from a downtown loop high rise at the 200 block of West Van Buren. Building inspectors have been notified.

Thankfully no one was hurt from this incident. I bring this up because several months back a woman lost her life when she was struck by a gargoyle that fell from a Presbyterian church in the South loop. That church had failed multiple inspections in the past, including for unstable structures at the top of the building.  The church failed annual inspections twice in 2011; and in 2010, 2009 and 2007, according to records from the buildings department.

One of the citations from the last failed inspection included “failing to maintain exterior walls of a building or structure free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the walls.”

It is important for the inspectors in this building that had falling objects this morning to locate the issue and hold the building’s owners accountable to ensure that the proper corrections are made. This includes all unstable or potentially unstable objects to be secured properly. This was not done by the church in the South loop last year and it cost a family to lose their mother. The odds of someone being struck by an object are minute but it can happen as it did in the South loop last year, and all possible precautions should be taken.  In that case the the church is facing a wrongful death claim on behalf of the woman’s surviving children,  alleging that they did not properly secure objects which were known to be unstable.

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

Wisconsin Woman Accused Of Using Facebook At Time Of Car Crash That Killed 3

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that the driver of who was involved in a car crash that killed three (3) children may have been chatting on Facebook with her phone right before the accident.

Cellphone records show that the driver was sending and receiving Facebook chat messages just before the crash, Pierce County investigators allege.  Authorities believe driver inattention contributed to the Dec. 12, 2013, car crash on Wisconsin Highway 35 near Prescott.

The woman’s SUV collided with a truck after she apparently lost control on a curve. The woman’s 11 year old daughter and two 5 year old nieces died from injuries in the car crash. The truck driver and his two (2) passengers were not injured in the accident.

I have not written about distracted driving in quite some time but this is still a pervasive problem in this country. Studies have shown that texting or emailing while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. A lack of focus for a second or two is all it takes for a car accident to occur. Texting and driving has been banned in Illinois but questions remain as to whether penalties a harsh enough. I believe if it is found that the texting was the cause of an accident, and there was an injured party, then there needs to be tougher penalties. I believe that texting and driving that causes an injury should be treated the same as a DUI, which is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. Class A misdemeanors in Illinois can be punishable up to a year in jail.

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

Rahm Emanuel Orders Removal Of 50 Red Light Cameras

After writing over the weekend that the Chicago mayor and city council should remove red light cameras, it was announced yesterday by multiple media outlets that the city would be removing fifty (50) red light cameras.

Red light cameras will be removed at the following locations:

• Ashland and 47th
• Ashland and 63rd
• Ashland and Archer
• Ashland and Diversey
• Ashland and Garfield
• California and 31st
• Central and Madison
• Cicero and Stevenson Expressway
• Cornell and 57th
• Cottage Grove and 95th
• Damen and Blue Island
• Elston and Foster
• Halsted and 63rd
• Halsted and 83rd
• Harlem and Northwest Highway
• Jeffrey and 79th
• Kimball, McCormick and Lincoln
• Narragansett, 55th and Archer
• Osceola and Touhy
• Pulaski and Montrose
• Stony Island and 83rd
• Vincennes and 111th
• Western Ave and 51st
• Western, Armitage and Milwaukee
• Western and Pratt

According to the mayor’s office the removals come as a result of a review of crash data performed by CDOT. Regardless, Mayor Emanuel is not backing down from his overall stance on red light cameras. “Red light cameras help reduce the most dangerous (car) crashes and allow police officers to concentrate on fighting crime, not writing traffic violations, and public trust is vital for this program to be effective,” said Mayor Emanuel.

I believe this is a positive first step regarding driver and pedestrian safety within busy Chicago intersections. If these cameras are viewed to have no net safety impact, then there is no reason to leave cameras in these intersections. I continue to believe that all the red light cameras should be removed because studies have shown that they can make intersections more dangerous. Regardless, I applaud the mayor for taking this initial step.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Chicago Sun Times Publishes Editorial On Traffic Cameras

The Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial yesterday stating that red light and speed cameras should only be used if they make our streets safer. “If red-light and speed cameras don’t have the trust of law-abiding motorists, the program is not being administered properly. Whoever is the next mayor should ensure Chicago streets are as safe – and as fair to motorists – as possible.”

I think we all agree with what the Sun-Times staff has pontificated. If red light cameras and speeder cameras save lives, then they should remain intact. If not, then they should be removed.  The problem with the editorial and with the red light cameras is that they do not actually make our streets safer for both drivers and pedestrians. The Chicago Tribune study that I have discussed over and over concluded there is a zero net impact on the red light cameras. T-bone car crashes are down but rear-end traffic accidents actually increased 22% since the cameras have been installed. If we believe the study to be true, then red light cameras should be removed. They are not preventing auto accidents overall and are not making our intersections safer.

On the other hand, speeder cameras are still fairly new. Mayor Emanuel installed them within the last two years and I have to see any data or studies as to their net effect on public safety. On their face, speeder cameras make sense. Why shouldn’t the city do what they can to prevent speeders from barreling through school zone and city park areas? But if there is no overall decrease in car accidents and pedestrian accidents, then I believe it should be questioned whether the speeder cameras should remain.

If you or someone you love has been seriously 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.