Illinois Governor Signs New Traffic Bill Strengthening “Scott’s Law”

Back in 2002, Illinois enacted a new traffic bill called “Scott’s Law,” which required drivers to slow down and safely change lanes when they see any vehicle on the side of the road with its hazard lights on. The Bill was named Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed in 2000. This Bill is often referred to as the “Move Over” law.

In a move to strengthen protections for first responders, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed an updated version of this Bill, which now protects protections to include authorized stationary vehicles with oscillating lights, first responders, Illinois Department of Transportation workers, police and anyone authorized to be on the highway for work-related duties.

The new law increases the minimum fine to $250 for a first violation and to $750 for a second and subsequent violations and adds a $250 assessment fee for any violation of Scott’s Law that will be funneled into a new fund devoted to producing driver’s education materials, called the Scott’s Law Fund.

Criminal penalties will increase to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if a violation results in damage to another car, or a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, if a violation results in an injury or death. Through the new law, an aggravating factor will be added to reckless homicide charges if Scott’s Law is violated.

The secretary of state also must include a written question about Scott’s Law in the driver’s license test. This new law becomes effective immediately.

Changes to Scott’s Law come after three Illinois State Police fatalities have occurred on the side of the road. Two of the three fatalities came as a result of violations of Scott’s Law and the third involved a wrong way driver.

Let’s hope the changes to this law raise awareness for drivers when they see first responders and road workers on the side of the road to slow down and change lanes. These are workers who are in a position to help protect people, but at the same time are in incredibly vulnerable situations while often times standing on the side of a busy highway.

If you or a loved one have 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

Chicago To Install Audio Crosswalk Signals For The Blind

Various news outlets reported last week that the city of Chicago is taking a huge step in improving the safety for blind pedestrians. The city announced it will install approximately 50 to 100 new audio signals at intersections throughout the city. A high-pitched chirp attached to pedestrian signals lets those with visual impairments know it is safe to cross the street. Others have voice signals.

According to the reports, the blind community will have input as to exactly where the the new signals will be installed.

This is an encouraging to step by the city to help citizens who cannot protect themselves. Unfortunately Chicago has lagged behind other cities around the country. For instance, San Francisco and Minneapolis, two cities much smaller than Chicago each have over 200 audio signals at crosswalks.

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

Chicago White Sox First Major League Team To Extend Protective Netting

I have written multiple times over the past few years about a number of baseball fans injured by foul balls at major league baseball games. Over the past few years, all the major league teams extend protective netting to the end of each dugout where the players and coaches sit. Despite these extensions over the last few years, fan injuries have continued.

A 2 year old boy was injured in Houston earlier this year, along with a 3 year old in Cleveland earlier this week. Last month a woman was injured at a Chicago White Sox game. This woman’s injury was enough for Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to take action. He asked his grounds crew overt the All Star break to investigate and eventually install protective netting that extends all the way to the outfield foul pole. The first game with the new netting was this week against the Miami Marlins. The only other team to announce adding the additional netting were the Washington Nationals.

What will the rest of major league baseball do in response to all these injuries? I hope they follow suit and do what the White Sox have accomplished. Obviously the technology is there, and there is no reason for teams to hold off any longer.

The question remains whether injured fans have any recourse against teams and major baseball. The family of the 2 year old has filed suit against the Houston Astros and Major League Baseball. Typically, these types of lawsuits have been dismissed based on an assumption of risk rule (referred to as the “baseball rule”) that protects major league teams. Each ticket sold basically states that they are not responsible for injuries that come as a result of errant foul balls, and courts have held that this should protect the teams and league from liability. But will this hold up when the teams know that the netting they currently have is not enough to protect fans? They are on notice and if they refuse to extend the netting, then I believe a court should refuse to dismiss these types of cases. I hope the case is litigated so that we can see a change in the law.

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

New Study Looks At Causes For Electric Scooter Accidents

Electric Scooters have arrived in Chicago within the last month. There are thousands now available to rent around the city. As I wrote last month, the e-scooter program is similar to Divvy bicycles, which can be rented, picked up in one location and dropped off at another designated location. One major difference is that there are no designated pick up or drop off locations for e-scooters.

There has been quite a bit of news coverage the last few weeks regarding safety issues with these types of scooters. Within a few short days there were multiple traffic accidents reported, including a hit and run where a scooter apparently collided with a bicycle, leaving the bicyclist seriously injured. So, what is the main cause of e-scooter accidents? My initial guess would be that the average person does not know how to properly drive them, especially in areas with heavy traffic.

According to a study done in Austin, Texas by the Texas Department of Public Health, the main culprit for e-scooter accidents is rate of speed. The study analyzed incident reports from nine area hospitals between Sept. 2 and Nov. 30 of last year. During that time, 192 people were injured, including 160 who were using dockless scooters through the city program and 32 who were possibly riding on privately owned devices.  Of those injured, 48% reported a head injury, including fractures, abrasions and lacerations, the study showed. Fifteen percent had evidence suggestive of a traumatic brain injury. Just one of the people injured reported wearing a helmet. Riders seemed honest when saying what caused their injuries: 37% of those surveyed said excessive speed was a contributing factor. 

I think the study confirms my assumption that many first time riders do not know how to handle these types of scooters in traffic. Specifically, they do no know when to slow down. I will be interested to see the statistics involved with e-scooter accidents in Chicago over the next year. Many parameters were put into place, including where the scooters could driven, and a ban on scooter use after 10:00 p.m. Let’s hope that the policies put into place will help protect those willing to jump on e-scooters and the pedestrians and bicyclists around them.

If you or a loved one have 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.