International Traffic Study Show U.S. Leads In Increase Of Traffic Deaths

According to a new study from the International Transport Forum, which recently held a traffic summit in Leipzig, Germany,  5 of 29 countries saw a jump in traffic deaths between 2010 and 2016. The U.S. had the highest rate of increase at 13.5 percent. Argentina had the second-highest increase in traffic deaths, at 9 percent, and Chile experienced a 5 percent increase. The United States also saw the highest jump in pedestrian deaths during the time period, at 39.2 percent, and a 34.8 percent increase in cyclist deaths.

We know that traffic fatalities have increased in Illinois and throughout the U.S., but it is now clear that these increases are outpacing every other country in the world. While we have known about these increases, there has been some debate about the cause. I have written on this site multiple times that the improved economy during the Obama administration led many more motorists on the road, and thus more accidents. The other factor I have written about over and over is the impact of phone use and distracted drivers.

The above referenced study agrees with this conclusion.  According to Fred Wegman, chairman of the International Road Traffic Data and Analysis Group, a division of the Transport Forum, the two main factors that has led to the increase in traffic fatalities is an improved economy and the rise in texting and driving. “Distracted driving is more prevalent and prominent in the United States than in other countries,” Wegman said.

What is the cure for the epidemic? I have written multiple times that there need to be stricter penalties for those caught texting and driving. According to those involved in the this Summit, more research is necessary.

Derek Kan, U.S. undersecretary of transportation for policy, said the U.S. started a safety data initiative last year to predict and better understand what causes traffic fatalities. “What does the data tell us — are there specific intersections, are there specific weather conditions, specific events where we see a spike in traffic fatalities?” Kan said. He said the U.S. is working with local police and state transportation departments to examine causes.Kan said the U.S. also wants to know how significant distracted driving is as an issue in traffic deaths — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the number of crashes due to texting or talking on mobile devices actually fell in 2016.“Is there a measurement error?” Kan said. “Maybe we’re not capturing this data correctly.”

It’s my opinion that there was a measurement error and they need to look further into the data.

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

NTSB Recommends New School Buses Include Improved Safety Requirements

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) met in Washington D.C. earlier this month for a board meeting to discuss safety improvements for school buses. The meeting came in the wake of a 2016 fatal school bus crash that occurred  in Chattanooga, TN, which killed six (6) and injured another twenty-six (26) children. The NTSB recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that all new school buses should contain lap-shoulder seat belts, the board also issued recommendations that buses be equipped with electronic stability control — computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing skidding.

The NHTSA, which sets national standards for school bus safety, requires lap-and-shoulder belts on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds, but allows individual states to decide whether to require seat belts on larger school buses. Eight (“8”) states — Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas — have passed laws requiring seatbelts be installed on school buses.

It will be interesting to see if the NHTSA follows the NTSB’s recommendations that states should enact laws requiring these lap seat belts on all new buses. Or, the NHTSA can look to the U.S. legislature to enact a law requiring all states follow these safety protocols. I think this is vastly needed, but would be shocked if this current congress and presidential administration would enact laws that would require these additional safety regulations. The current congress and president seem more apt to deregulate as much as possible regardless of the safety ramifications. We shall wait and see what happens here.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Illinois bus accident or any type of Illinois traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Hit And Run Accidents Reach Record High And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

According to a AAA Insurance press release, hit and run car accidents have reached an all time high.  AAA’s research done by the Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that a hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads. These hit and run accidents resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016. This is the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009.

The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run car crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period.

It is illegal in every state to leave the scene of an accident, regardless of who caused the traffic accident. The penalty for leaving the scene varies depending on the whether there was property or personal injury damage. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois.

One thing I can recommend to Illinois drivers is make sure you have full auto coverage on your vehicles. This includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. What this means is that if you are struck by an uninsured vehicle or a vehicle that flees the scene and you are unable to collect their information, then your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in. This means that if you are injured in this type of accident, you can make a claim against your own insurance company for any injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of a normal life damages. All of this can and should be covered by your own insurance company. Based on the above hit and run numbers provided by AAA, I cannot stress how important it is to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage from your insurance carrier.

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

Another Tesla Autopilot Crash Leads To More Legal Questions

The Associated Press is reporting another Tesla car crash, which was allegedly traveling about 60 miles per hour, when it rear-ended a fire truck stopped at a red light. The driver sustained a broken right ankle, told police that her car was in autopilot mode and failed to brake before the violent impact decimated its front end.

This is is the fourth Tesla involved in a traffic crash this year while cruising in autopilot.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the matter. “Consistent with NHTSA’s oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, the agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash.” the agency said in statement Wednesday. “NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review.”

For me, the most crucial aspect of this particular case is whether the vehicle owner will seek damages against Tesla for her injuries. Typically in a case like this, the party that rear-ended another vehicle would not be able to seek damages for her injuries as she was the one that was at-fault for the car accident. Our civil justice systems allows parties to seek reimbursement for economic and non-economic damages against at-fault parties. In this case, if the driver can prove that the Tesla software failed by not stopping on time, then she could seek damages under a product liability claim. Unfortunately, product liability cases are very expensive due to the high costs of experts in these types of cases. Regardless, I think the driver here would have a very strong case based on the facts that we know. There are no allegations that the fire truck she rear-ended doing anything wrong. It was merely sitting idle at a red light. The question is whether an attorney will want to take on the cost for this type of case for just a broken ankle.

Another interesting question will be whether the driver’s insurance carrier will seek a subrogation claim against Tesla for the cost of repair or replacing the damaged vehicle. The insurance company could easily ask for reimbursement for the repair or replacement of the vehicle if the evidence continues to show that their driver did nothing wrong. Again, the subrogation claim would most likely come under product liability. This could be the rare situation where a plaintiff personal injury attorney and auto insurance company team up together for the same common goal.

These are some of the very intriguing issues that continue to arise from car accidents stemming from self-driving cars.

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

Memorial Day Weekend Is One Of The Busiest Traffic Weekends Of The Year

Next to Thanksgiving, Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. According to AAA auto club close to 42 million Americans plan to take travel over Memorial Day weekend. This is a five (5) percent increase from last year.

In Illinois 2.04 million people plan to travel, which is an increase of four percent from 2017. Unfortunately, we will also see some of the highest gas prices in several years. It is estimated that the Illinois average for a gallon of gas is $2.95 is up from $2.70 last month, and $2.39 last year.

Based on past numbers, AAA expects to help approximately 340,000 motorists over the weekend.

This Friday, May 25, between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm is supposed to be the busiest travel period over the weekend.

A few tips to ensure you have a safe road trip:

  1. Check your battery before heading out on an extended road trip.
  2. Check alternate routes and times for leaving so as to avoid the heaviest traffic
  3. Buckle up. Not only for safety purposes, but also, state troopers will be out in full force ticketing speeders and those no wearing their seat belts.
  4. Put the phone aside. For everyone’s safety, put your phone aside and stick with the hands free technology. This is always the safest way, but especially true when there are so many people out on the road.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, please call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois’ Distracted Driving Awareness Week Took Place At End Of April

Illinois’ second annual Distracted Driving Awareness week took place the week of April 20-27.  Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week, is a collaboration between the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, AAA,  IDOT, Illinois State Police, the Illinois High School & College Driver Education Association and nearly 300 law enforcement agencies in Illinois.  According to the Illinois State Police, the use of a cell phone while driving increases your chances of getting into a car crash by 400%.

Once of the local law enforcement agents that participated in the initiative was the town of Naperville. According to the Naperville Sun, their local police department issued over 350 distracted driving tickets during the month of April.   221 of the tickets were written the week of April 23-27, as part Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week. The rest were issued as part of the Illinois Drop It And Drive program conducted from April 16-30, according to a Naperville police news release.

Current Illinois Distracted Driving Laws include: mobile phones may only be used in hands-free mode or wireless earpiece, and drivers under the age of 19 may not use a phone in any way while driving. Breaking distracted driving laws in Illinois is considered a traffic offense, and first violation carries a fine of $75. Second violation has a $100 fine, $125 for third, and $150 for each subsequent offense. Causing an accident which results in injury while breaking Illinois distracted driving laws is considered “Aggravated use of electronic communication device”, carrying much harsher fines and penalties.

Hopefully we will see area law enforcement continue to crack down on distracted drivers throughout the year and not just in April

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

Will Southwest Airlines Passenger Fatality Lead To More Thorough Engine Inspections?

Whether you fly Southwest Airlines or not, it was terrifying to hear about the passenger death occurred last month on that airline while the plain was mid-flight. Specifically, while in the air, the Southwest 737  engine failed, causing a blast the shattered a window and eventually killing one passenger.

Reports have indicated that a cursory inspection of the engine just two (2) days before this incident revealed that the engine seemed to be in perfect working condition.  Robert L. Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), said a blade in the engine had broken in two places — where the blade attaches to the main hub and higher up, approximately at the midpoint of the blade. He said that a crack “was on the interior of the fan blade,” and that it was “more than likely not detectable from looking from the outside.”

Days after the incident, investigators are concluding that a simple visual inspection of an engine may not be enough. According to the New York Times, the company who manufactures the engine, CFM International,  recommended that airlines conduct ultrasound inspections of the blades. In the United States, carriers aren’t required to follow manufacturers’ guidelines.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now issuing a directive that all airlines follow CFM’s recommendation to perform the more thorough ultrasound inspection. Unfortunately this is a few weeks too late.

It is important to point out that the NTSB still has not concluded what the root cause of he blade to break apart. It could have been, as suggested above, a lax inspection process. Or possibly a design defect in the engine.

I believe we will see a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of the deceased passenger. They will no doubt name both Southwest and the engine manufacturer as defendants in the case. The interesting thing in this case, which does not bode well for Southwest, is that the Plaintiff’s attorney and the engine manufacturer will argue that they recommended ultrasound inspections for all engines over a year prior to this incident. Southwest did not follow these instructions, and that could be viewed as negligent behavior. It could be argued that Southwest had notice of the potential issue and that the time and cost of this more intense inspection were minimal. Failure to do this inspection was negligent behavior that caused this accident. It will be interesting to see what happens and whether a lawsuit is eventually filed.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury accident, then call Chicago accident lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

National Construction Work Zone Awareness Week Included Chicago Event

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn, who spoke at a National Work Zone Awareness Week event in Chicago last month stated: “Slow down, put the phone down, pay attention to your surroundings… you could save a life and more than likely it will be your own, as 4 out of 5 work zone fatalities are not our workers but drivers traveling through work zones.”

The Chicago Tribune reported recently that construction zone traffic fatalities have risen nationally, but fortunately, decreased in Illinois last year. There were 44 and 46 Illinois construction zone deaths in 2015 and 2016, but only 29 in 2017. Nationally there were 765 in 2016, a 7 percent increase from 2015.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is touting efforts made with law enforcement to help make construction zones safer as the reason for the improvements. Specifically, IDOT has been working with the Illinois State Police to help improve safety by cracking down on speeders and distracted drivers within construction zones.

Nationally, the excuses for the increase in deaths appear to be the same. Paul Pisano, team leader for road weather and work zone management for the Federal Highway Administration blamed the increase in traffic deaths to there being on the road, distracted driving and the amount of construction work being done.

Hopefully other states, and the federal government, can take a look at Illinois, and the efforts made with law enforcement to help improve safety in construction zones nationwide.  Illinois is far from perfect when it comes to traffic safety as there have been increases in pedestrian deaths in recent years. But hopefully the improvements seen in construction zones can be applied to all areas of traffic safety.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076