Chicago Transportation Commissioner: Traffic Crashes Are A Public Health Crises

Chicago Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, spoke to a group at the  City Club of Chicago last week making the claim that the number of traffic fatalities in and around Chicago has created a major health crises. The purpose of her speech was to make the case  for “Vision Zero,” a three-year plan with the  goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries that affect 2,000 people in Chicago each year.

The “Vision Zero” plan The plan will rely heavily on signs, surveillance cameras and “data-driven” enforcement to convince Chicago motorists to stop ignoring the city’s traffic laws.

Th neighborhoods that they plan on focusing on includes: the Loop, the Near North and Near West Sides, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, West Town, West Englewood, Englewood, Washington Park and Grand Boulevard.

“The only goal we should be aiming to achieve is zero. Zero deaths and zero serious injuries. We all have the right to walk, bike, take transit and drive on streets that are safe for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we live,” Scheinfeld said Monday.

A portion of her talk focused on the recent changes in red light tickets. Scheinfeld said the city has also agreed to begin the process to move red-light cameras from six existing intersections and place them at five new locations where the study shows red-light cameras would have a greater impact on safety.

 This is a lofty goal set forth by the city but it is the right one to make. I think it’s almost impossible to think that all traffic fatalities will be eliminated just due to the number of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that pack city streets everyday. If “Vision Zero” merely makes huge cuts in the number of traffic fatalities, I think it will be a success.

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.

Experts Warn Self-Driving Cars Are Not Safe

The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.

James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”

“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.

Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:

—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.

—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.

—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.

—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.

“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.

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.

National Safety Council Reports Traffic Deaths Up In 2015

The National Safety Council announced last week that traffic fatalities are up 14% so far this year and that injuries related to traffic accidents are up 33%.

The Council has deduced that a robust economy and lower gas prices have put more people on the road, which in turn leads to more car accidents. If the trend continues, traffic deaths this year could exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, when there were nearly 44,000 deaths.

The Council did note that in recent years drunk driving fatalities have dropped about 20%, teen car accidents are down and seat belt use is up. The question remains is whether the increase in fatalities is due solely on a booming economy and low gas prices? The Council believed this is the main reason, but also blames the increase in speed limits in many states along with the continued number of distracted drivers. Despite multiple distracted driving campaigns on the state and federal level, more people are taking cell phone calls and texting on their phones while driving.

So we have the most amount of drivers on the road since 2007 plus more people using their cell phones while driving at faster rates. This is a dangerous combination which has led to this increase in traffic deaths. Like I have written numerous times in the past, until states stiffen the penalties for texting and driving, we will not see the numbers of traffic fatalities and serious traffic injuries drop.

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

Does Sneezing And Causing An Accident Fall Under The “Act of God” Defense

I have written over and over about the many things that can distract drivers. Of course, the most obvious is texting and phone use. Others have included everything for tooling with the radio to eating and driving. All of these activities can be very dangerous as all it takes is second or two of lost concentration for a car accident to occur.

The Chicago Sun Times reported some odd news last week when a semi-truck driver’s ill-timed sneeze sent his rig rolling onto its side Monday morning in northwest Indiana. The driver, a 48-year-old Hobart man, was not hurt in the crash, which happened on a ramp from State Route 249 to I-94 near Portage, according to Indiana State Police. As the driver entered the ramp, he started to sneeze, which caused the truck to run off the roadway and onto a grassy area where the rig rolled onto its side, State Police said.

Luckily there were no injuries to the driver and the roll over didn’t cause any other traffic accidents. I think it would be tough here to put any blame on the driver as this may fit into the “act of god” category rather than any negligence on his part. Similar “act of god” situations include suffering a heart attack, stroke or seizure while behind the wheel and causing a traffic accident. In these situations it is difficult to prove liability on the part of the driver who caused the accident, and often times defense attorneys are successful in dismissing claims or reducing liability when there is the “act of god” defense. Regardless, luckily no one was injured as this was a semi-truck accident.

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

 

New York City Cuts Speed Limit. Should Chicago?

The New York Daily News reported this month that the New York City Council passed legislation that cut the speed limit to 25 mph. The change in speed limit was done in an effort to cut back on traffic fatalities in the city. City officials believe that the slower speed limit was decrease the chance of fatality by 50% compared to vehicles driving 30 mph. No scientific evidence or studies were provided in the article to back this claim.

“By lowering the speed limit, we send a message to drivers that they must not only drive slower, but safer on our streets,” said Transportation Committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez. “For too long our roads have been a battleground between pedestrians and drivers, costing countless lives in preventable situations. This type of environment is unacceptable and will be tolerated no longer.”

Highways and parkways will still have higher limits, while school zones and other spots will still have lower speeds.

Should the Chicago mayor’s office and the City Council here consider a similar measure? Mayor Emanuel has stated over and over that he is committed to protecting pedestrians and bicyclists. He has taken steps by inserting speeder cameras and has opened protected bicycle lanes throughout the city. Emanuel has stated that the cameras were inserted for safety purposes only and are not a money grab for the city. Ok, then why not follow in New York’s footsteps and lower the speed limit. If safety is priority one for drivers and pedestrians, the I believe the mayor and City Council should strongly consider lowering the speed limits, at least in certain areas of the city.

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 legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

AT&T Launches Campaign Against Texting And Driving

Following suit of various states (including Illinois) and the federal government, AT&T, is launching an initiative to curb texting and driving.

AT&T’s “Txtng & Drivng … It Can Wait” campaign features parents of young texting-and-driving victims and the final text messages the young drivers received just before they died. The campaign’s theme: “No text is worth dying over.”

The campaign, which will include advertising in 72 shopping malls, also features an online resource center, att.com/txtngcanwait, where educators, parents and teens can download information about texting while driving and sign a pledge not to do it. AT&T also has launched a Facebook application, at facebook.com/att.

Dallas-based AT&T, which serves about 85 million wireless customers, is the second communications company to enter the fray against texting while driving. Verizon Wireless launched its national “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign last year.

The campaign comes as the movement against texting while driving nears critical mass. At least 23 states this year have considered bans on texting while driving; 10 of them restrict texting by novice drivers. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving for all drivers, the Governors Highway Safety Association says.

It will be interesting to see whether this campaign will be effective or not. Texting and driving is clearly showing to be a very dangerous activity. Click here to read the entire article from USA Today.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384. 
 

Federal Government Bans Texting For Truckers And Bus Drivers

On Tuesday, the federal government formally barred truckers and bus drivers from sending text messages while behind the wheel, putting its imprimatur on a prohibition embraced by many large trucking and transportation companies.

“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”
 
19 states, including Illinois, have banned texting while driving for all drivers. The Federal Government may not be far behind.  Soon after the NHSTA made this announcement, a group of Senators introduced new legislation that would ban texting by all drivers.

This move by the Federal government is not surprising at all. Texting bans appear to be the trend for local governments and now he federal government. It will be interesting to see if and when the new legislation passes.

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

AAA Issues Simple Tips For Safe Driving

I have written a lot in the past several months about several laws that Illinois legislators have passed to help make the roads safer. This includes the ban on cell phone use and the ban on texting while driving.  While these new laws are helpful and will hopefully make the roads safer, there are several little things that can help make you a “heads up” driver. AAA recently issued a press release that discusses simple steps all drivers can take to help make the roads safer. Take a look at the below list. These may seem obvious, but they can protect you, your family and, of course, other drivers. 

  1. PLAN AHEAD.  Read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road.
  2. STOW ELECTRONIC DEVICES.  Turn off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road. Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone or to send and receive text messages or emails.
  3. PREPARE KIDS AND PETS FOR THE TRIP.  Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them.  Similarly, prepare and secure pets appropriately in your vehicle before getting underway.
  4. SATISFY THAT CRAVING OFF THE ROAD.  Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long-distance.
  5. STORE LOOSE GEAR AND POSSESSIONS.  Stash away loose objects that could roll around and take your attention away from driving.
  6. GET YOUR VEHICLE ROAD-READY.  Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or while your vehicle is stopped.  Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and every other driver can see you better. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view.
  7. DRESS FOR SUCCESS – BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR.  Your car isn’t a dressing room.  Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up, and tie your necktie before you leave or once you reach your destination.
  8. GET YOUR BRAIN IN THE GAME.  Focus on the task at hand – driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you just saw to enhance your engagement as a driver. Really focusing on maintaining your thoughts about the road, when you’re on the road, can help you improve your overall awareness and behavior as a driver, and help you see the importance of ‘being in the game.’ AAA offers classroom and online defensive driving courses that directly address distracted driving and offer tips for maintaining attention while driving.
  9. EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR FROM THE ‘OTHER’ SIDE OF THE ROAD.  When you’re on the road as a passenger or a pedestrian, take a look around and honestly evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when observed in other passengers or pedestrians.
  10. USE NEW TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER.  Sharpen your ability to respond quickly to risks on the road. The AAA Foundation recommends all drivers improve their reaction times and managing attention on the road by using DriveSharp, a computer program proven to improve reaction time and stopping distances. With quicker responses, you can avoid the distracted driver who might end up in your lane.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Insurance Study Questions Effectiveness Of Distrated Driving Laws

The Washington Post published an article last week that discussed a study performed by the Highway Lost Data Institute (an Insurance industry group). The study reveals that distracted driving laws, such as bans on texting and cell phone use while driving, has not decreased the number of car accidents in several states. The study looked a car accident data from New York, California, Connecticut and Washington D.C.

The organization found that claims rates did not go down after the laws were enacted. It also found no change in patterns compared with nearby states without such bans.

Adrian Lund, the group’s president, said the finding doesn’t bode well “for any safety payoff from all the new laws.”

Not everyone is happy with the results of this study and the way this information is being handled.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also has been campaigning against texting and cell phone use while driving. In a blog post Friday, LaHood dismissed the new study’s conclusions as irresponsible and said the study will lead people “to wrongly conclude that talking on cell phones while driving is not dangerous.”

The Post did not provide a link to the actual study but it seems a little premature to come to such a drastic conclusion. Saying the new law “do not work” seems overreaching at this point. I would like to look at the actual study and the numbers first as this article does state whether the data is looking at the gross number of accidents or accidents believed to be caused by distracted drivers. It will be interesting to see how safety groups around the country respond to the study and its’ findings.

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

Toyata Releases Full List Of Recalled Vehicles

I wrote earlier this week about the Toyota recall and the remedies they were implementing regarding their floor mat and accelerator defect. Toyota has now extended the number of vehicles and has released the whole list on their website. The following vehicles have been recalled:

2008-2010 Highlander
2009-2010 Corolla
2009-2010 Venza
2009-2010 Matrix
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe

Toyota released the following statement:

“Toyota’s remedy plan is to modify or replace the accelerator pedals on the subject vehicles to address the risk of floor mat entrapment, even when an older-design all weather floor mat or other inappropriate mat is improperly attached, or is placed on top of another floor mat.  Floor surface modifications are also being considered and will be included in the remedy plan for any model for which it is deemed appropriate.
 
Initially, dealers will be instructed on how to reshape the accelerator pedal for the repair.  As replacement parts with the same shape as the modified pedal become available, they will be made available to the dealers for the repair. Customers who have had the pedal reshape remedy completed will have the opportunity to receive a new pedal if they desire, after replacement pedals become available.
 
In addition, Toyota will replace any Toyota all-weather floor mat in a subject vehicle with a newly designed mat, free of charge. For those customers who have the previous design all-weather floor mat but do not need or want the newly designed all-weather floor mat, Toyota will recover the previous design all-weather floor mat and reimburse its price.”

I wonder if the Matrix Zipcar I use up the street is still around?  I guess I will find out soon enough.

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