Will County Sheriff Launches Labor Day Traffic Safety Campaign

Will County Illinois, which is adjacent and directly south of Cook County, decided to launch a traffic safety campaign with started August 16 and run through Labor Day weekend. The campaign is aims to stop drunk, unbuckled and distracted drivers.

“Our goal is to help ensure that our community’s residents and visitors make it home safely after the party ends,” Traffic Sergeant Kyle Lakomiak said in a release. “We will be out in force to keep impaired drivers off the roads. If you will be celebrating, we urge you to plan for a sober ride home. It could be a matter of life and death.”

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is funded by federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest traffic weekends of the year. Be sure to to aware of your surroundings, buckle up and put your phone down when behind the wheel.

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

Safe Swimming Tips For Young Children

The summer is almost over but it is never too late to discuss safe swimming tips for kids or young children learning to swim. Gold Fish Swim School, which provides swim classes for toddlers and young children recently joined ABC 7 in Chicago, and provided the following safety tips for parents of young children or toddlers just learning to swim. I thought it would be helpful to post those tips.

1. Sign your children up for swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are the number one thing you can do to prepare your children for the potential dangers of water.

2. Use a Water Watcher Card. A water watcher card is designated to an adult who is not distracted by a phone, drink, etc., tand is paying close attention to kids who are swimming.

3. Buy your children a USCG (United States Coast Guard) approved life jacket. It’s a mistake to think floaties and pool toys are life-saving devices.

4. Most drownings happen during non-swimming times, so make sure there are appropriate barriers around pools and doors are locked so children cannot get in the water when it’s not a designated swim time.

These are just a few tips. I think the tip to pay most attention to right now is for parents to put their phones down and focus on their children. This is especially true for those with very young children. It’s very easy for all of us to become preoccupied with reading our smart phones. Pools can be incredibly dangerous areas for inexperienced and young swimmers and they need parent’s attention and focus the whole time.

If you or a loved one has been 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.

U.S. Senators From Illinois Pen Letter to MLB Regarding Protective Netting

The Chicago Tribune U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckwork, both from Illinois, have co-authored a letter to Major League Baseball (“MLB”) asking the league to “collect and report” data on regarding ballpark fan injuries. This letter comes in the wake of multiple incidents of fans being struck by foul balls hit into the stands. Some of the incidents, including one in Houston, have resulted in serious injuries to children.

According to the two Democratic Senators they feel disclosure of the date “will provide a more honest public dialogue and help protect baseball’s biggest — and littlest — fans… Disclosing that information would help inform fans and their families about the safest locations to sit.” 

As of this year all 32 teams have extended their netting to the length of each team dugout. As I wrote a few weeks back, the only MLB team to update their netting and extend it all the way to the outfield was the Chicago White Sox, who implemented the changes over the All Star break in July. Chicago’s other team, the Cubs, have stated publicly that they don not know when or how they will extend the netting at Wrigley Field due to unique architectural issues.

I think this type of letter is a step in the right direction for protecting fans. I hope MLB follows this requests and discloses all of the data to the public. Also, I would like to see other MLB teams follow the White Sox lead and extend the netting bast each dugout. We have seen too many injuries in recent years not to take extra precautions. If teams do not extend netting and the injuries continue, I hope that state courts look at this decision by MLB and start holding teams civilly liable for these injuries.

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

New Study: Illinois Traffic Fatalities Rose Over Last 5 Years

The online automobile insurance company, Esurance, released a new study that traffic fatalities have risen in the United States over the last five (5) years. Illinois was once of the states that saw an increase.

The study looked at the raw number, but also included the main contributed causes to fatal car accidents during this period. According to the study, crash fatalities in Illinois went up from 991 in 2013 to 1,096 in 2017, an 11% increase.

The number one cause of traffic fatalities in the state was speed, which was 42.2% of deadly crashes. Driving under the influence had 27.3% of crashes while distracted driving had 7.2% and drug-related car crashes had 3.8%.

Over the five year period, percentage of alcohol related fatalities decreased from 32.7% down to 27.3%. Meanwhile, the number of distracted driving crashes increased from 5.6% to 7.2%.

I am somewhat surprised to see some of these numbers. First, I would have assumed larger percentage would have been attributed to distracted drivers. Although, unsurprisingly, we did see distracted driving crashes did increase. We know that distracted driving has become an epidemic in the country. I was happy to see that this year stricter traffic laws were finally enacted in Illinois to combat this issue. As I wrote last month, police officers no longer issue warnings for first offenses. Also, any type of hand held phone use while driving is considered a moving violation, which is now a misdemeanor. With that comes higher fines and it is much easier to have your license suspended ( 3 offenses within a 12 month period).

If you or a loved one 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

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.

Saliva Tests For Drug Detection In Illinois Raises More Questions Than Answers

I wrote earlier this week about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois. As I mentioned in the article, state police and individual police departments will be tasked with determining whether drivers are impaired by more than just alcohol. This will be difficult because marijuana can stay in someones blood for up to 30 days, and sometimes longer depending on how frequent someone uses the drug.

One police department, Carol Stream, has started a pilot program to test saliva of drivers who have already been arrested. The program is being funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”).  An officer currently determines whether a driver is impaired at the scene, brings that driver back to the police station, administers a chemical test (blood or urine) and then the saliva test is offered on a voluntary basis. It does not affect that person’s case and is just part of a study. The testing has not been approved to be used roadside.

Let me be clear, I have a lot of problems with this program, and a lot of questions need to be answered. First, readers should realize that there are 4th amendment (illegal search and seizure) violation issues that arise with this type of testing. If someone is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer test. No police officer can force you to take that test. Although, the saliva test has not been approved for roadside use, there will never be a time where I believe courts will confirm that forcing this type of test when someone is pulled over would be legal under the 4th amendment. Also, a driver does not have to submit to a blood test either. Although, if someone is arrested, a police officer can seek a warrant to take someone’s blood sample. Again, will the police be able to seek a warrant for a saliva test as well? I do not believe these types of warrants should be allowed unless or until the accuracy of these tests passes scientific measure. Again, how accurate are these tests? I don’t think we know yet.

Without knowing more, I cannot endorse this type of saliva testing by police departments. Remember, if you do get pulled over, you do have rights. You do not have to submit to any of these tests without a proper warrant. Also, always contact an attorney if you have been arrested. You have rights, and one of those is to defend yourself against charges to DUI and against illegal searches and seizures.

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

AAA Study: 13% Of Americans Do Not Think Driving High On Marijuana IS Dangerous

The American Automobile Association (“AAA”) released results of a study this week regarding the perceptions of marijuana use while driving. AAA surveyed 2,582 drivers and found more than 13% thought driving while high on marijuana was “only slightly dangerous” or “not dangerous at all” compared to driving while drunk, drowsy or impaired by prescription drugs. Among those surveyed, 70% said the odds of getting caught by police if you drive within an hour of consuming marijuana are low.

The study also revealed that nearly 15 million Americans admitted to driving within an hour of consuming marijuana, the AAA reported. Impairment from marijuana typically occurs quickly — within the first one to four hours of using the drug, AAA researchers said, adding that driving while stoned doubles the risk of a car crash.

This study comes on the heels of the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Illinois. Illinois Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law last week which will make marijuana legal in the state starting on January 1, 2020.

The question that many Illinois law enforcement agencies are now facing is how to deal with drivers who may be impaired while under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there is no roadside breathalyzer that will detect marijuana use. Further, if the driver is detained and or arrested for erratic driving and then has their blood tested while in custody, there is no way to time stamp when the marijuana entered the driver’s system. Marijuana has been known to stay in a driver’s system for up to thirty (30) days, depending on frequency of use. Law enforcement will be tasked with this issue going forward and anticipate writing about this a lot in future once marijuana becomes legal and law enforcement agencies start announcing ways to deal with drivers who may be under the influence.

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