April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Throughout the month of April, Police departments across the state of Illinois are cracking down on drivers who text while behind the wheel. April is the national distracted driving awareness month, and Illinois’ police departments are taking it seriously.

More than 100 police agencies across the state are planning to add new hands-free driving enforcement zones that will target drivers using their phones, according to the Naperville Police Department.

Despite laws on the books in every state, including Illinois, banning texting and driving, injuries continue to go up due to distracted driving car accidents. According to the National Highway Safety Council approximately 100 people are injured per day in traffic accidents caused by texting and driving. One reason these numbers continue to grow is due to the expansion of wi-fi capabilities on smart phones.

Extra police patrols and other costs related to the Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign are covered by federal funds allocated to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

I think this push to crack down on distracted drivers is encouraging. My only issue is this should not be a one (1) month a year focus. Police departments should have their patrol officers trained to look for distracted drivers on a regular basis, just like they would monitor for drunk drivers.

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.

Is Elon Musk’s High Speed Underground Tram In Chicago Moving Forward?

Last year, outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference with transportation and tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, regarding a high speed, underground tram system that would cart passengers out to O’Hare airport. The tram was touted to take about twelve (12) minutes and would cost approximately $25 for a one way trip. It was stated that Musk’s boring technology would dig the necessary pathway in between the downtown loop and the airport. The goal of this new transportation system was to help ease the gridlock on I-90/94 and free up space on the always packed Chicago blue line. Also, it would provide an opportunity for commuters to avoid the often hour long automobile commute or forty-five (45) minute train ride. Even more enticing was that Musk told the press that his boring company would be shelling out the 1 billion dollars in necessary construction costs.

A lot has changed in Chicago since September 2018. Rahm Emanuel decided not to run for a third term as mayor and there is now a runoff election for his spot set for April between Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

News outlets have reported within the past month that neither mayoral candidate are very excited about this project. Lightfoot doesn’t include the Musk tunnel in her transportation plan, and Preckwinkle said at a candidate’s forum that the tunnel was “definitely something I would put on pause.” Both have cited the need to expand and improve the CTA red line and Metra train systems on the south side.

This was and is an incredibly innovative idea. Obviously we don’t know all the details of financing, but if Musk and his company are paying for the entire construction, and the city splits a portion of the revenue, I do not see how the city does not move forward with this project. The added benefit of freeing up traffic above ground and the job creation seems to make this a no-brainer for the incoming mayor. This is assuming the technology would actually work in Chicago and the city and county are not putting up any of the money. If so, I would like to the see the incoming mayor reconsider their position(s) on this matter.

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

New Study Shows States With Texting & Driving Ban Showed Decrease In ER Visits

A new study from Texas A&M revealed that sixteen (16) states that have enacted a complete ban on texting and driving saw a 4% decrease in emergency room visits. The study looked at emergency room data from these states from 2007 through 2014. The results were published in the American Journal of Public Health this week.

Alva Ferdinand, lead author of the study, a lawyer, and an assistant professor of health policy at the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University, stated this about complete texting bans: “The law can be a very useful public health intervention. There are lives that can be saved and injuries prevented as a result of these laws,”

In 2016, nearly 3,500 people lost their lives and 391,000 were injured but survived a crash related to distracted driving, including texting, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I have been writing about this issue off and on over the last half dozen years. I have mentioned over and over that we will not see a decrease in car accidents and traffic fatalities until there are actual deterrents to texting and driving. A mere fine, by itself, will not prevent drivers from picking up their phones while in traffic. There needs to be actual teeth in the legislation. This means a total ban, along with the threat of a moving violation with hefty fines. If drivers are aware that they could see points on their driving record, along with the threat of paying serious money for violating the law, then they are more likely to put their phones away while behind the wheel. These research findings are refreshing to me and a validation of what experts around the country have been saying for years.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a 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.

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Antitrust Violations Against Real Estate Brokers

A new class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”), by a group of home buyers was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District Illinois this week. The lawsuit, titled Moerhl v National Association Realtors (NAR) alleges antitrust violations by the NAR, due to their practices of forcing home buyers to pay a non-negotiable 6% fee to their agents on all home sales. The suit states that this practice by buyers agents prevents home sellers from the freedom to negotiate their own rate with their real estate agents. Realogy Holdings, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams are also named in the suit.

The lawsuit cites a 2002 study that if sellers were free to negotiate with their agents, then the commission would fall somewhere closer to 3%.

I am certain that the NAR and associated agencies will argue that that the benefits that brokers provided more than made up for the 6% commission paid. For example, they will argue that the benefit of putting the home up on the MLS, which allowed the homes to be viewed on multiple websites (Redfin etc…), allowed homes to be sold much more quickly and at the highest possible price. They will argue that homes sold by buyers most likely take longer to sell and do not reach the same value as they would on the MLS because they are viewed by less potential buyers.

I am not an antitrust expert by any means, but I will predict that this will be a fiercely fought legal battle. Experts are saying there could be up to 54 billion in damages alleged.

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

Chicago Police Ramping Up DUI Patrols For St. Patrick’s Weekend

St. Patrick’s Day weekend is one of the most congested weekends
of the year for both automobile and foot traffic . This year includes the downtown parade and dying of the Chicago River on Saturday, along with the south side parade on Sunday. On top of all this the Big 10 basketball tournament is taking place all weekend at the United Center. Based on all the extra traffic, and most likely copious alcohol consumption, Chicago Police are taking extra precautions.

Patch.com reported this week that the Chicago Police Department’s 6th District (Gresham) will be adding DUI saturation patrols. Police officers will monitoring traffic for signs of impaired driving, speeding and safety-belt violations.

The Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit is also expected to be to deployed. BAT allows officers to expedite the process of charging a person with driving under the influence before driving them to the nearest lockup. The BAT mobile also allows for I-bonds to be issued at the site of the DUI saturation patrol.

If you are heading downtown or to the south side, remember that there are multiple options for public transportation, along with cabs and ride shares. There is no reason to get behind the wheel if you are drinking. Even if you don’t plan on drinking, there is no reason to drive through the middle of all the expected congestion.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a 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.

Chicago Mayor’s Office Initiates Mobility Task Force

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to oversee a mobility task force for the city of Chicago. The purpose of the task force was to create a vision for the ever changing transportation systems including: roads; trains; buses; electric scooters; ride sharing; and bicycles. More specifically, the mayor’s office asked the task force to look at the following aspects of transportation:

  • Establishing clear mobility goals and effective governance that serve as a framework for planning for, evaluating and managing current and future mobility options and identifying the appropriate City leadership to ensure future decisions align with such goals.
  • Proposing changes to technology, policy, and public way use management to support the City’s mobility goals, including regulatory incentives, transit improvements, curbside use policies and data-sharing requirements/infrastructure.
  • Reviewing the areas of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; enhancing CTA and other City transportation assets; promoting low and no carbon mobility choices; and finding sufficient and sustainable funding sources.

Secretary LaHood’s task force has recommended that the city hire a “mobility chief,” who would oversee all aspects of improving transportation and how to pay for it. I think this makes sense as the type of overhauls this task force is recommending would need some sort of CEO type to oversee the implementation of these new infrastructures and programs.

I am all for improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. This includes reducing traffic, reducing the carbon imprint, reducing costs etc.. But to be honest, this entire task force seems to be more of a question mark than answer. The media reports state that the task force’s report recommend “50 specific actions, policy changes or studies.” I have not seen a press release showing us what these “specific actions” include. There have merely been snippets, such as hiring mobility chief, adding toll roads and possibly a gas tax and new mobility services and technology, with “smart lanes” dedicated to bicycles, van pools and other shared rides.

This is all great, but there has been no explanation on how to achieve these “50 specific” actions. I will be anxiously awaiting more information from the mayor’s office on how to achieve these goals, and whether the new mayor (Lightfood or Preckwinkle) will carry the torch and follow through on what the task force has recommended.

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.

Illinois State Police Enforcing New “Move Over” Law

According to the Illinois State Police’s (“ISP”) Facebook page, the department is focused on cracking down against drivers who violate the “Move Over” or “Scott’s law.” Enacted in 2017, 625 ILCS 5/11-907 (C), requires drivers drivers slow down, move over to another lane and proceed with caution if a car is stopped on the shoulder.

According to the Facebook post, in emergency situations where vehicles are stopped on the side of the road, the ISP may be placing an extra trooper near an accident to catch people who don’t follow the law. The trooper may be hiding in front of the stopped vehicle or behind another trooper vehicle, making it look like backup.

Violators of the statute will face a minimum of a $100 and up to a $10,000 fine, depending on the severity of the violation. For example, if the driver fails to slow down or switch lanes and then injures someone or causes property damage, then they will face a much higher fine. The ultimate fine is up to the discretion of the judge as there is no sliding scale written in the statute.

The law was enacted in honor of Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while at the scene of an accident.

Please take caution when you see a vehicle on the side of the road, not just because you will avoid a ticket, but because you could avoid causing a major traffic accident.

If you or a loved was injured in a serious 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.

Are Faulty Traffic Light Boxes Causing Pedestrian Accidents In Chicago

CBS 2 Chicago produced an interesting story this week about faulty or “dark and faded” traffic light boxes around the city. The report pointed out that they counted a total of twenty-two (22) faded boxes on the North Side alone. Specifically, all four (4) light boxes were completely out at the intersection of Clark and Chicago streets.

The report asks whether these faulty light boxes could be the cause in the recent surge of pedestrian accidents in the city. It was noted that there were 207 pedestrian accidents alone that were reported in January of this year.

The news station reached out to CDOT asking for a comment and their only response was a generic press release stating: “electrical office schedules repairs on an ongoing basis.”

Further, the most recent report from “Vision Zero” did not mention any plans to update or maintain faulty traffic light boxes. “Vision Zero” is the city’s broad plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities in Chicago by the year 2026.

This seems to be a simple fix and something that should already be budgeted for by the city counsel. It should be a priority by the city to stay vigilant in the upkeep and repair of traffic light boxes if they plan to meet their goals from “Vision Zero.” Chicago has some of the heaviest foot and bicycle traffic in the U.S., and simple bulb repairs should not fall behind at any time. Especially when the city has publicly made pedestrian safety such a high priority. At least that is what they have stated.

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

Ford Motors Recalls 1.5 Million Vehicles For Defects

Earlier this week Ford Motor Company announced to that they would be recalling almost 1.5 million Lincoln and Ford vehicles. The main culprit appears to be the 2011 – 2013 F-150 trucks that contain 6 speed transmissions. According to press releases, the faulty downshift to first gear has caused 5 accidents thus far, plus a concern of whiplash injuries. Approximately 1.48 million F-150 vehicles will be recalled

Ford spokespeople stated: ” Depending on vehicle speed, a downshift to first gear without warning could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.” Ford is also recalling 27,000 2017 to 2019 Lincoln Continental vehicles , and 4,200 2019 Ford Mustangs silicon contamination in the door latch, which can prevent it from fully engaging.

The main cause for concern is the F-150. If you own one of these trucks, it is important to take in immediately and have the part repaired. We will follow this closely to see if any other accidents are related to this auto defect.

It is important to point out that auto accidents caused by auto defects are completely different than your normal car accident caused by another driver’s negligence. If the evidence shows that a car crash was caused by a defect in the vehicle (as described above in the F-150 trucks), then the injured party can make a claim or ultimately file a lawsuit based on the auto defect. The complaint will include a count in their complaint against the auto maker alleging the auto defect caused the accident and the resulting damages. In Illinois, a plaintiff must plead and prove that (1) the injury or damage resulted from a condition of the product manufactured or sold by the defendant, (2) that the condition was an unreasonably dangerous one, and (3) that the condition existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control. This may sound easy on its’ face, but auto makers and other manufacturers of products defend these cases fiercely, specifically by hiring high paid experts to argue that either to product wasn’t unreasonably dangerous or it didn’t cause the injuries in question. It is important to consult with an attorney if you believe you were injured by an auto defect.

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

Study Says Chicago 3rd Worst In Traffic Congestion

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company released a new study this week regarding traffic congestion in the U.S. and globally. The study revealed, to no ones surprise, that Chicago ranked as the 3rd most congested city in the U.S. The study stated that Chicago drivers wasted 138 hours sitting in traffic last year, and the traffic back-ups cost $1,920 per driver in 2018.

One reason experts have noted for the surge in traffic congestion in Chicago is due to the robust downtown economy. Several companies have opened new offices downtown and in the West Loop, including McDonalds and Google.

The thing that puzzles me about this ranking and about the traffic in general in Chicago is that there are so many alternate options for a work commute. Chicago has some of the most efficient train and bus lines with the CTA, and the number of bicycle commuters continues to grow, especially the number of dedicated bike lanes throughout the city. Also, Metra provides train rides for tens of thousands of commuters into the city every day. One factor that I didn’t see mentioned in any of the articles written about this study is the amount of road construction that has been going on. I-290 has been under construction the last several years. Hopefully when that is completed, it will free up a lot of the congestion from all directions coming into downtown.

If you or someone you loved 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