Niles, IL Police Department Initiate “No Texting Tuesdays”

There has been a statewide ban on texting and driving in Illinois for the past several years. Most towns and cities around the state, including Niles, have their own local ordinance banning the practice. The question remains is how vigilant police departments are in enforcing the laws. Niles, a suburb of Chicago, decided in late 2017 to make a concerted effort to crack down cell phone use by drivers, when the initiated “no texting Tuesday’s.”

Niles police department decided to dedicate one day a week towards cracking down on texting drivers. The tickets they issue include a $100.00 fine, but they are not considered a moving violation and do not affect a person’s driving record.

I applaud this move by the Niles police department as it is clear they are taking the issue seriously. The problem with distracted drivers, in my eyes, is that despite the state law and local ordinances, this problem is not going away. According to the National Safety Council of Distracted Driving causes about 1.6 million crashes per year and those crashes cause about 330,000 injuries. They say one in every four accidents is caused by texting.  As I have written multiple times in the past, without harsher penalties, drivers will not be motivated to put their phones down. I think we need higher fines, and at least, consideration of making it a moving violation where the driving record can be affected.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

CTA Offering Free Bus And Train Rides For New Years Eve

It is New Years Eve and for the sixth year in a row, the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) is offering free bus and train rides. This is an excellent service for those who are going to be out and about and do not want to pay for cabs or an Uber ride. The free rides begin at 10 p.m. Sunday, December 31 until 4 a.m. Monday, January 1. MillerCoors’ Miller Lite is sponsoring the free ride program for the sixth straight year. As part of the sponsorship, Miller Lite covers the cost of all rides taken, plus the operating costs to run CTA service during the hours in which the promotion is offered. Last New Year’s Eve, CTA provided nearly 97,000 rides between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“We are proud to once again offer safe, convenient and free transportation this New Year’s Eve,” said CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. “We wish everyone a very Happy New Year and allow CTA be your designated driver for New Year’s Eve.”

There is absolutely no reason to ever drink and drive, but this is especially true if you live in the city and are going out on New Years. Enjoy the night, stay safe and take advantage of the free rides.

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 J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Bicycle Traffic Law Takes Effect In Illinois In 2018

In a legislation session in Illinois we see a plethora of new traffic laws take effect after the new year. This year I am only seeing one major traffic law change. HB 1784 will allow allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones and permits bicycling on road shoulders.

“This new legislation legalizes some common motorist and bicyclist traffic practices,” said Ed Barsotti, Ride Illinois’ chief programs officer, in a statement. “The intent is to make the roads safer while improving car-bicycle interactions.”

The reason for the change in the law is the often times motorists do not want to change lanes in a no-passing zone, and their attempts to pass the bicyclists, while in the same lane, leads to dangerously close traffic. The new law will hopefully give motorists the confidence to safely pass a bicyclist (who is riding less than half the posted speed limit) in a no-passing lane.

I think we can all agree that common sense traffic laws like these should be passed when they solve problems and make the roads safer for motorists and bicyclists to share the road together.

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

Does Rosemont Hotel Face Civil Liability Following Death of Teenager in Kitchen Freezer?

Multiple news outlets reported last month that the unusual death of teenager Kenneka Jenkins at a Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois was ruled an accident. The Rosemont Police Department issued a statement her death was accidental and said there was “no evidence that indicated any other conclusion.” There was no sign of date-rape drugs in her toxicology reports, the office said.  “Our detective reported no signs of foul play throughout the whole investigation… there is no evidence that Ms. Jenkins was forced to drink alcohol or consume any narcotics while at the hotel.”

Surveillance video from the hotel shows the teenager stumble into the kitchen area, before disappearing around a corner. The footage does not show her entering the freezer.

Right now it does not appear that that anyone from the party Ms. Jenkins attended nor will anyone from the hotel will face criminal charges. The question remains whether the hotel will face civil liability for Ms. Jenkins death. The short answer is absolutely. It is my understanding her family has retained legal counsel, and they are no doubt investigating this matter as we speak.

A civil suit against the hotel will most likely contain at least two (2) counts. One for negligence and one for premises liability. The premises liability count will allege that a defective condition on the property caused Ms. Jenkins death. The negligence count must show that the behavior of the hotel staff and/or security was not reasonable and thus caused her to end up in the freezer.

The difficulty for the plaintiff in this type of case comes with the difficulty of proving causation. The plaintiff will have to show, under both the premises and negligence counts, that the hotel’s actions (or inactions) proximately caused the death. Proximate cause is best described as whether it was foreseeable that this woman would end up in the freezer based on their negligent actions or defective condition on the property. Just because a plaintiff can show negligence or defective conditions, does not necessarily mean that these were the proximate cause. Plaintiffs must do their best at showing that whatever was done wrong, i.e. lack of proper locks, lack of security etc… could foreseeably lead to someone who has been drinking alcohol to wander into the kitchen and eventually the freezer. Without knowing more of the facts in this case it would be hard to predict the outcome. I will say that this will be the most contentious issue should this case lead to litigation.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago premises liability accident, or Chicago personal injury case, please call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076,

IDOT And CMAP Propose New Initiatives To Relieve Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

Those who commute by car to work everyday in and around Chicago, know how stressful the traffic can be. It can be stressful just trying to drive to the one of the airports, or coming down to the city over the weekend. Chicago has been documented as one of the worst cities in the U.S. when it comes to traffic gridlock. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) and (“CMAP”) have recently teamed up to plan alternative solutions for freeing up some of the traffic gridlock in and around Chicago.

One of their first proposed ideas is congestion pricing. Congestion pricing would allow motorists to pay for the privilege of bypassing gridlock. According to CMAP, a congestion pricing added lane can shorten a motorist’s morning rush-hour commute by a third to two-thirds. Rush-hour traffic in un-tolled lanes would drop by a quarter to a third, according to CMAP research.

The second suggestion is  using expressway shoulders for buses, an idea already used on the Jane Addams tollway and on Interstate 55.

Another suggestion to their plan would be installing sensors along expressways that gather real-time data on bottlenecks, so motorists know ahead of time which stretches to avoid.

This all seem like legitimate ideas, but do we know if they will really work? Also, how would the state pay for all of this? Once possible solution is an additional gas tax.

I am a little dubious of all of the above ideas. I am not an engineer or a traffic expert, but none of the plans take the actual number of total commuters of the road. The additional bus lane is a start, but I really cannot think of many people that would take a bus out of or into the city due time on the commute. I would like to see further study into high speed trains and/or additional train lines. If Metra and the state can offer faster trains and/or more trains in and out of the city, I believe we would have more commuters deciding to stay out of their vehicles. Of course I don’t know the cost and whether this is even feasible, but if we want less vehicles on the road, it seems to me the most viable option would be a faster train system.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Bicyclist Fatalities Down So Far In 2017

There have been three (3) bicyclist fatalities through the first eight months of 2017. There were five (5) fatalities during the same time period in 2016. The accidents all occurred on the West side or near West side of the city. This data was provided by the mayor’s pedestrian advisory committee.

In a small way, I think this is good news. As I have written recently traffic fatalities in Illinois and Chicago specifically have increased over the last two years, including the first part of 2017. Hopefully this trend regarding bicycle deaths in Chicago, is something we will see statewide and regarding a traffic fatalities.

As I have written in the past, Chicago has implemented Vision Zero, which is a traffic safety initiative with a goal of zero traffic fatalities in the city by the year 2026. Much of Vision Zero’s safety initiative will focus on West side neighborhoods such as  Near West Side, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale. I hope this will include additional bicycle only dedicated lanes and other engineering improvements that will make that part of the city safer for bicyclists.

I will be very interested to see the plans for Vision Zero unfold and eventually introduced by the Mayor’s office and city hall. Let’s hope the first part of 2017 for bicyclists is a trend that will continue to improve.

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

Illinois Passes New Bicyclist Safety Law

According to various news outlets, the Illinois passed HB 1784 last week, which allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones and permits bicycling on road shoulders. Under the new law, a driver is allowed to cross into the oncoming lane in a no-passing zone to safely pass a cyclist who is riding at less than half the posted speed limit when there is sufficient distance to do so. Drivers must not exceed the speed limit and pass with at least three feet of clearance.The new law will take effect on January 1, 2018.

The purpose of the law is aimed at preventing vehicles from trying to  squeeze by a bicyclist while in the same lane, which can lead to sideswipe crashes.

This seems like an obvious bill to pass, but sometimes the obvious isn’t always codified into state or local law. I think this is important (especially in Chicago), where we are seeing more an more bicyclists on city streets and major roads throughout the state. Now motorists should not be hesitant to safely switch lanes in order to avoid contact with a bicyclists. Motorists can now do this legally.

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

Illinois Traffic Fatalities Up In 2017

I wrote a few months back about the increase in traffic fatalities in Illinois and the US in 2016. That trend continues so far in 2017. The Chicago Tribune reported last week that according to the National Safety Council, a safety advocacy group, that traffic fatalities are up 4% during the first half of 2017 versus the first half of 2016.

A spokesperson from the National Safety Council could not give a definitive reason for the increase. Although, they did mention that a couple reasons that could factor into these results are the lack of motorcycle helmet requirement in Illinois plus the increased speed limit on major interstates. Illinois increase their speed limit on certain sections of interstates to 70 mph. The Council also noted that pedestrians and bicyclists continue to be a concern as they are particularly vulnerable in cities with heavy traffic.

There was no discussion in the article or in the National Safety Council’s study about distracted driving or texting and driving.  The Council did warn that these numbers could continue to go up as the second half of the year is typically more deadly. This is due to increased holiday travel and winter weather, which often begins in November in certain parts of the country (including Illinois).

Unfortunately there are no solutions provided by the Council I would recommend, again, putting your phone down when behind the wheel. It is incredibly dangerous to text or search the internet while driving. Also, if you are walking or biking areas with heavy traffic, then always be aware of you surroundings. Sometimes drivers just aren’t paying attention.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Suspends 12 Amusement Rides After Ohio Accident

Multiple news outlets reported earlier this month that the state of Illinois has suspended 12 amusement rides after a fatal accident at an Ohio fair. In Columbus Ohio, an 18-year-old man died after he was thrown into the air and landed about 50 feet away from the swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball. Seven other people were injured as a result of the accident.

In response to this amusement park accident, the Illinois department of labor has decided to suspend 12 rides throughout the states. All 12 rides are manufactured by by KMG, the same Dutch company that makes the Fire Ball.

One of the suspended rides was set to be used at the DuPage County Fair outside of Chicago. The Dupage County Fair commissioner stated the following in response to the state’s decision to suspend on of their rides: All rides have to be inspected by the state, and they get certified and a sticker on them that they have passed inspection through the state. They are inspected each and every time they’re set up at any other event that goes on, usually by the municipality, the fire department in that area. In our case, here, we add one more layer to that. We get both the city and fire department, and then also an inspection team that’s independent.”

The question remains if the current inspection protocol in Illinois is enough to certify rides? Are there steps the state should implement, such as the independent inspection done by the DuPage fair? I would recommend both state and independent inspections be required before certification for state use. Hopefully this will prevent what happened in Ohio.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an Illinois amusement park accident or other personal injury, call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Chicago Mayor Introduces Safety Upgrades On City Trucks

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that Mayor Rahm Emanuel received preliminary approval from City Council to install special safeguards on city trucks. The upgrades to city trucks include side guards and additional side mirrors to eliminate blind spots for drivers.

The purpose of these upgrades is to help the make the streets safer for bicyclists. According to the article, this type of safety equipment is being installed on trucks in other large cities throughout the country. The cost for these upgrades is estimated at $400,000 annually, which will cost about $3,300 per vehicle. By 2026,  1,700 city trucks will have the new equipment. Contractors with city work will be expected to upgrade 25 percent of their trucks each year, with their full fleets having the guards and mirrors installed in four years.

Although Mayor Emanuel has taken a lot of heat the last few years regarding the red light and speeder cameras, but I applaud him for the steps he has taken to help protect bicyclists and pedestrians. Chicagoans know that this is one of the best cities in the country for bicyclists, with dedicated bike lanes and special guard rails, being installed at a rapid rate. Hopefully this will be another step in preventing bicycle accidents in Chicago.

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