Studies Show Summer Is Most Dangerous Time Of Year For Drivers

The Chicago Tribune published an interesting article last month about what we should expect this summer for on the highways in Illinois. Basically, the authors pointed out that that due to the increased number of expected travelers this summer, we should expect more car accidents and traffic fatalities than we saw in 2014. Going into Memorial Day weekend, Illinois already had 15 more traffic fatalities than the same time last year.

While vehicle fatalities have increased 5 percent in Illinois so far this year, motor vehicle deaths nationally increased 11 percent — to 8,250 fatalities — in the first three months of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council, based on preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The traffic safety administration’s official count includes only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days of accidents, whereas the safety council counts deaths that occur within a year of accidents.

Injuries resulting from car crashes in which medical care was received hit almost 1 million from January through March of this year in the U.S., a 26 percent increase from the same period in 2014, the safety council said.

The increase in crash-related deaths correlates to more vehicles on the roads, more total miles traveled and lower fuel prices, officials said.

The leading causes of traffic accidents continue to be intoxication and the use of cell phones. Despite most states, including Illinois, which have outlawed the use of cell phones while driver, not state has banned hands free usage.The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) and subsequently the the National Safety Council  have called for a ban on hands-free cellphone use of any kind, but no states have enacted laws completely prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving. Illinois law permits the use of hands-free devices, except in construction zones.

If you are going to be travelling on the road this summer, be sure to buckle up and put away your cell phone.

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

Is Siri Just As Dangerous As Texting And Driving?

A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls into question the safety of hands-free technology used by drivers. According to a news release posted by AAA last month, dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

The study revealed the following findings regarding the distractions drivers create for themselves while behind the wheel:

  • Tasks such as listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level of distraction or a minimal risk.
  • Talking on a cell-phone, both handheld and hands-free, resulted in a “2” or a moderate risk.
  • Listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features increased mental workload and distraction levels of the drivers to a “3” rating or one of extensive risk.

“These findings reinforce previous research that hands-free is not risk-free,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.”

AAA is the front runner on this type of research and stated in their press release that legislative action should be considered, much like the ban on texting and driving. They suggest that voice automated technology should be limited to core related driving functions such as climate control and windshield wipers. They also suggest that there should be a ban on voice to text technology related to social media, text messages and emails.

If this research is accurate (which I believe it is), then AAA is at the forefront here and their suggestions should be listened to. To me it makes sense that voice to text functions such as emails, texts and tweets are a distraction and dangerous because drivers often times look down at their phone to check and make sure their texts or emails are accurate.

It will be interesting to see if any states or the federal government takes any action to limit voice to text technology. It could save lives.

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

AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety Releases Troubling Report

AAA’s Foundation for
Traffic Safety released the results of a four year study revealing that
Americans have become less concerned about the dangers of certain driving
tactics. This is troubling for several reasons. First, as I have written on
this blog multiple times, texting and emailing while driving has become an
epidemic in this country and is considered as dangerous as drinking and
driving. The same can be said about driving without enough sleep. Legislatures
(including Illinois) have stepped up to the plate and enacted laws banning
distracted driving and have increased penalties. Further, the major cell phone
companies have joined together with campaigns such as “It Can Wait,”
to try and curb texting and driving. This is what is so troubling: why – –
despite new laws and publicity – – are drivers in this country becoming less
concerned about these issues?

Survey
results during the previous four years show decreasing concern for dangerous
driving behaviors:

-The
number of people who believe drinking and driving is a serious threat declined
from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012.

-The
number of people who consider drowsy driving a very serious threat declined
from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.

-The
number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very
serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. The
number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from  21 percent to 26 percent during the same
period.

-The
number of people who consider red-light running to be completely unacceptable
declined from 77 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 20012.

“We have
made great strides in recent years to reduce road deaths, but there are still
too many needless fatalities caused by dangerous driving,” said Jake Nelson,
AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “It is clear that more
must be done to address the dangers of drunk, aggressive and drowsy driving to
stem this concerning trend.”

What
are we to make of this study? How much more can legislatures do to prevent this
type of behavior? Suspend licenses? That may seem a little drastic but what if
the number of distracted traffic accidents do not decrease after the new laws
go into effect after January 1. These are issues both the Illinois legislature
and cell phone companies will have to look at.

If
you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a
free consultation at 312-588-3384. 

AAA Opposes Illinois Speed Limit Increase

According to The
Wall Street Journal, 
AAA is adamantly opposed to the Illinois Senate
Bill 2356, which proposes to increase the interstate speed limit 70 miles per
hour. 

“The Illinois legislature should not
ignore the enormous speeding problem Illinois already has on its
roadways,” said Brad Roeber, president of AAA Chicago. “Speeding
accounts for more than half of Illinois’ over 900 roadway fatalities, and this
problem cannot be fixed by letting cars and trucks travel faster.”

The data on speeding are clear. From
2008-2011, Illinois’ roadway fatalities dropped 12 percent; but those
fatalities due to speeding rose nearly 14 percent. Furthermore, in 2010 and
2011, Illinois speed limits for large trucks were raised to 65 mph. Over this
time, there has been a 39 percent increase in fatalities involving large
trucks.

“Make no mistake, this bill allows large
trucks to travel even faster on our roadways. The majority of large-truck
fatalities involve motorists, who unfortunately don’t stand a chance against an
80,000 pound vehicle traveling at high speeds,” said Roeber.  In
2011, AAA noted in their Crashes vs. Congestion study that a conservative
estimate of the cost to society for each fatal car crash was $6 million. 

I wrote about this issue last week after the
bill passed through the Senate. My issue with the Bill was whether there were
any studies available regarding the dangers on the roadways based on a higher
speed limit. No surprise, AAA has researched this issue, and they are convinced
there will be me traffic accidents and traffic fatalities if drivers
(specifically truck drivers) are allowed to drive faster on highways. I would
like to see an independent study on this issue before I conclude whether this
Bill should be enacted into law.

If you or someone you love has been seriously
injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free legal consultation at
312-588-3384. 

AAA Promoting “Heads Up Driving Week”

We need to solute AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,  for their promotion of “Heads Up Driving Week.”  This is the 3rd straight year that AAA has asked drivers to away distractions and focus only on the road.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety posted these startling statistics about the dangers of texting and driving:

  • More than one million people have died in car crashes over the past 25 years in the U.S., with 33,788 lives lost in 2010 alone.
  • Drivers spend more than half their time behind the wheel engaged in distracted behavior.
  • Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your risk of crashing.
  • Eating, smoking, adjusting music or rubbernecking while driving can be just as dangerous as texting, emailing or talking on a cell phone.
  • Passengers are one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction, with young children being four times more
  • AAA also stated on their website that the majority of the public is concerned about texting and driving: ”  themajority of drivers – 94% – agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable and 87% support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving…”

    The question that remains is why the public continues to text and drive despite their strong sentiments against it?  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think it goes back to the driving public’s willingness to adapt to new driving laws. There have been multiple reports that it took the public years to adapt to the seat belt laws that were enacted 50 years ago. Maybe it is taking the public time to adapt to a culture where it is socially unacceptable to text and drive.  Maybe it will take stiffer penalties for the public to begin changing their behavior.

    If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

    Drowsy Driving A Major Cause Of Car Accidents

    I have written numerous times about different causes of car accidents , including: distracting (texting and cell phone use); drinking and driving; winter weather; and even eating and driving. Another concern that has drawn recent attention is drowsy drivers.

    The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a new study showing that the tragedy of drowsy driving is more pervasive than shown in previous estimates. Their study shows that drowsy driving involves about one in six deadly  vehicle crashes ; one in eight crashes resulting in occupant hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.

    The study also found that –

    • Vehicles in which the driver was accompanied by a passenger were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a drowsy driving related crash.
    • More than half (55%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said that it occurred on a high-speed divided highway.
    • More than half (59%) of those drivers who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year said they had been driving for less than an hour before falling asleep; only one in five reported they had been driving for three hours or longer.
    • More than one in four drivers (26%) who reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past year reported that it had occurred between noon and 5 p.m.
    • Men (52%) were much more likely than women (30%) to report having ever fallen asleep while driving; men (14%) were also more likely than women (8%) to admit having done so in the past year.
    • Drivers age 24 and younger were most likely to report having fallen asleep in the past year, but they were least likely to report having ever fallen asleep. This is consistent with other studies that have found younger drivers to have a higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

    There are some very easy steps drivers can take to help prevent people from driving while drowsy:

    • Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. You’ll want to be alert for the drive, so be sure to get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours) the night before you go.
    • Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize the holiday weekend by driving at night or without stopping for breaks.
    • It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.
    • Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances. A buddy who remains awake for the journey can take a turn behind the wheel and help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
    • Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.
    • Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.
    • Avoid alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness as a side-effect.
    • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
    • Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.

    I will add that I do not believe drinking coffee or energy drinks are not a substitute for a good night’s sleep.  Click here  to read the entire press release from drowsy driving prevention organization.

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

    Illinois Secretary Of State And AAA Team Up To Promote Safe Driving For Teens

    Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, was out and about this week promoting a new website that is focus on safe driving for teens. The website, which was built with partner AAA (Illinoisteendriving.com) interactive site helps parents and teens manage the complex coming-of-age process by providing users with specific information based on Illinois laws and where they are in the learning process – from preparing to drive (pre-permit) through the learner’s permit and solo driving.

    “Parents and teens alike have many questions about all aspects of the learning-to-drive process,” said Brad Roeber, AAA Chicago Regional President. “AAA has partnered with Illinois‘ foremost leader on teen driving, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, to combine the resources of his office with AAA’s to provide a comprehensive, best-in-class tool before, during and after teens learn to drive.”

    The website will provide information about Illinois‘ graduated driver licensing (GDL) system, selecting a driving school and choosing the right vehicle for their teens. Parents will also learn more about some of the common risks associated with teen drivers. Among other topics, teens can take interactive quizzes to prepare for the driving exam, learn the real costs of owning a car, and learn the Illinois laws and fines.

    “I am pleased and encouraged that the number of teen crash fatalities continues to drop since my Teen Driver Safety Task Force issued recommendations that led to the strengthening of Illinois‘ graduated driver licensing (GDL) program,” said Secretary White. “Since the stronger GDL program took effect in 2008, teen driving deaths have dropped by over 50 percent. This Web site acts as a wonderful compliment to the GDL Parent-Teen Driving Guide my office developed and will further help parents and teens steer safely through the driving process for years to come.  I commend AAA Chicago for their ongoing commitment to highway safety.”

    This is an excellent initiative by Secretary White and we will see if this will help contribute in the overall decrease in serious car accidents  around the state that we have seen the last few years.

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

    AAA And The Humane Society Offer Safety Tips When Traveling With Your Dog

    Nothing is more important to many people than their dogs. Man’s best friend deserves their owner’s constant attention, and this sometimes includes while driving. The problem is that providing too much attention to your dog, while driving, can cause distractions and often lead to car accidents .

    AAA prepared a recent study about dog owners and their travels and offered some safety tips. AAA’s survey of dog owners found nearly 60 percent admitted to engaging in distracting behavior while driving with their pets. This included petting, letting Fido sit on their laps, playing, or giving food and water. Experts say taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds can cause a crash. An unrestrained dog could become a projectile – a 10-pound dog in a 50 mph crash can exert 500 pounds of pressure, the AAA said. Also, if you’re in an accident, an unsecured, traumatized dog will create problems for emergency responders trying to help.

    To help prevent these distractions and hopefully leading to a safer ride with fido, AAA and The Humane Society offered the following tips: purchase a restraining harnesses for dogs; keeping your dog in the back seat; and nixing the head out of the window routine. And, if you’re driving with a cat, the Humane Society suggests a carrier.

    Fido rules but not always in the car.

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , the call Chicago car accident attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

    School Is Starting: Take Caution On The Roads

    It is that time of year again and children are heading back to school. In some parts of the country, classes started last week. With buses and minivans packed with kids and along with pedestrians crossing the street, AAA reminds us to stay cautious during our morning and afternoon commutes.

    AAA offers the following tips that can help make the roads safer for school children:

  • Slow down near schools and in residential areas.

  • Drive with your headlights on – even during the day – so children and other drivers can see you.

  • Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrollers, bicycles and playgrounds that indicate children could be in the area.

  • Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs of children.

  • Practice extra caution in bad weather.

  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students

    And, as always, keep your eyes and fingers away from your phones and blackberrys. It only takes a few seconds of your eyes off the road for something bad to happen.

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at

    AAA And Seventeen Magazine Team Up To Prevent Distracted Driving

    A survey by AAA and Seventeen magazine turned up some startling results on teen drivers. Of those surveyed, almost 90 percent admitted to partaking in distracted driving, including texting, talking on the phone and eating while driving. The teen drivers admitted this despite, 84 percent of them knowing that this is a dangerous practice.

    Of those surveyed, 73 percent have adjusted their radio/CD/MP3 player, 61 percent have eaten food, and 60 percent have talked on a cell phone while driving. The reasons teen drivers think it’s fine to engage in these distractions are varied: 41 percent think their action will only take a split second; 35 percent don’t think they’ll get hurt; 34 percent said they’re used to multitasking; and 32 percent don’t think that anything bad will happen to them.

    “It’s great that so many teens are able to identify the bad driving habits that will put them and their friends in danger. But the bigger challenge we face now is to give them the tools they need to stop driving while distracted,” says Ann Shoket, editor in chief of Seventeen magazine. “It’s our responsibility to keep our 13 million readers out of harm’s way.”

    This is a dangerous trend that needs to be addressed.  “Traffic crashes  are the leading cause of death for teen drivers and the proliferation of distracted driving among teens is a challenge all of us must face head-on,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “Because of their lack of driving experience and penchant to take risks, it’s imperative that teen drivers – like all drivers – remain focused behind the wheel at all times. AAA is pleased to partner with Seventeen to spread the anti-distracted driving message and help keep teen drivers safe.”

    Obviously I believe the key is to continue to preach to teens (and drivers of all ages), to put down their phones, soda bottles and snacks and focus on the road. As AAA points out in their studies, it only takes 2 seconds of looking away to cause a car crash .

    If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago accident attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the law firm website at www.BLGCHICAGO.com