Chicago Aldermen Propose Use Of “Textalyzer” By City Police

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that two Chicago Aldermen are interested in new traffic technology called a Textalyzer, a device developed by Israeli company Cellebrite — which can access a phone’s operating system to check whether it was being used to text, email or perform other functions. Its name is a play on the Breathalyzer, which can help determine whether a driver is legally drunk.

Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, and Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on the Police Department to appear before a City Council committee “to address the use of emerging technology, such as a Textalyzer, in enforcing the city’s existing traffic laws or the investigation of vehicle accidents.”

I have written on the dangers of texting and driving on this site ad nauseum through the years, as I believe it has been proven that distracted driving is an epidemic in this country. Far too many people text and drive and it is causing serious traffic accidents and sometimes traffic fatalities. My problem with this proposal is that it calls into question whether this type of technology invades on peoples 4th amendment right to privacy. Specifically, the constitutional right against illegal search and seizures. Many people do not realize that when stopped by policy they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer or other sobriety tests. Further, people have the right refuse an officer’s request to search their vehicles. Although, it must be noted that if an officer believes there is probable cause for a search they can go ahead and do so (though anything found in such a search could be subject to the Court’s scrutiny as to whether the search was legal). The point here is whether police should have the right to seize a drivers phone and perform a “Textalyzer” analysis to determine if the driver had been using the phone at the time of the crash? I don’t believe so. It could be argued that the phone could be seized if there is overwhelming evidence that the phone was being used prior to the stop (i.e. the officer saw the driver typing into the phone while driving or the phone was in the drivers lap following a car accident).

These are all questions that need to be answered prior to the city moving forward and handing over this technology to police officers. I do not believe the City Council should rubber stamp this technology without a careful determination of the constitutional implications. Further, there is the question of whether this type of technology would be a deterrent for drivers to use their phones while behind the wheel.

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 J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Study: Interlock Devices For First Time DUI Offenders Saves Lives

The Washington Post published an article this month about a study performed by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which revealed that traffic fatalities have declined by 7 percent in states that mandate ignition interlocks for first-time drunken-driving offenders.

Interlock devices are installed in vehicles and require drivers to blow into them before the car’s ignition will start the engine. Currently, 22 states require interlock devices for first time DUI offenders. Other states require them for repeat offenders or those with a particularly high blood alcohol content. Some states let the judge decide whether an interlock is appropriate.

The study tracked fatalities for about five years before states began passing interlock laws in the late 1980s through 2013, when all states required them under some circumstances.  The Hopkins study suggested that even those with no previous DUI convictions would think twice about driving under the influence if faced with the prospect that a first-time offense would require them to use an interlock. It says partial laws that don’t mandate the devices for all offenders are less effective. More than a third of the 35,092 fatal car crashes in 2015 involved a driver who had been drinking; 29 percent of them were legally drunk and 20 percent had a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit or higher.

I think it is safe to conclude that the states that require interlock devices for first time offenders is saving lives. Drivers are more hesitant to even attempt to drive after drinking if they know they have to face the interlock. I think it would be important to take these findings and perform studies that involve distracted drivers. Wouldn’t you agree that drivers would be more hesitant to pick up their phones while driving if they knew there were very stiff penalties if they were caught texting and driving or they cause car accident while using their cell phone. I think this study is important and we could have predicted the outcome. Now it’s time to use this study into other areas of traffic law, including distracted drivers.

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.

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.

Study Shows Teen Drivers Succumb To Distractions More Than Ever

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed nearly 1,700 videos that capture the actions of teen drivers in the moments before a crash. It found that distractions were a factor in nearly 6 of 10 moderate to severe crashes. That’s four times the rate in many previous official estimates that were based on police reports.

AAA examined more than 6,842 videos from cameras mounted in vehicles, showing both the driver and the simultaneous view out the windshield. The videos were provided by a company called Lytx, Inc., which offers programs that use video to coach drivers in improving their behavior and reducing vehicle collisions.

The videos revealed that distractions were involved in 58% of the car crashes. The most common forms of distraction were talking or otherwise engaging with passengers and using a cellphone, including talking, texting and reviewing messages. Other forms of distraction observed in the videos included drivers looking away from the road at something inside the vehicle, 10 percent; looking at something outside the vehicle other than the road ahead, 9 percent; singing or moving to music, 8 percent; grooming, 6 percent; and reaching for an object, 6 percent.

The videos provide “indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of accidents than we previously realized,” said Peter Kissinger, the foundation’s president and CEO. The NHTSA previously reported that only 14% of teen car crashes were caused by all kinds of distractions.

What is the solution to this problem? Drivers of all ages (not just teens) are glued to their phones and unfortunately this includes while being behind the wheel. I have suggested over and over that there should be stiffer penalties for texting or phone use while driving. Should a teen’s license be suspended if they are caught texting and driving? Should there be higher fines? If teens are not afraid of the repercussions that come with texting and driving, then it will be tough to convince them to cease their behavior.

The other alternative could be left to the auto makers. Maybe there is technology on the horizon that would disable all phones in vehicles unless they are in a “hands free” mode.

Regardless, it appears that distracted driving is a much more dangerous issue than first thought, and that legislation and possibly, technology, should be improved.

If you or someone you love has been 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.

Number Of Distracted Driving Tickets In Illinois Has Tripled

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the number of cell phone tickets issued by Illinois State Police have tripled from this time last year. According to the report. From January 1 to April 30 of this year, state police wrote 3,307 tickets for distracted driving, nearly triple the number during the same period of 2013. 

A first offense for driving and using a cell phone draws a $75 fine. If the distracted driver causes a car crash that injures someone, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable up to a year in jail. In Chicago, which had a total ban on cell phone use while driving prior to the state ban, police have issued 16,500 tickets so far this year.
I have written on this subject numerous times in the past and continuously called for stiffer penalties. I was happy to see the state step up and issue the complete ban, which started in 2014. I think a Class A misdemeanor charge is appropriate for distracted drivers cause a traffic accident that results in an injury (this is the same level of charge for a first time DUI). I think a $75 fine for a first time offense may be a little bit too lenient. Drivers are not putting down their phones, which is obvious by the increased number of tickets. If the state (and city of Chicago) want to prevent distracted driving then they should increase the fine and/or make it a moving violation.
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 312-588-3384. 

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. 

IL Governor Quinn Signs A Statewide Ban On Hand Held Cell Phone Use While Driving

I mentioned this in a
recent blog post and The Chicago Tribune, reported the same back in
August that Illinois Governor Quinn has signed a bill banning a hand held cell
phone use for drivers. This new law will take effect on January 1, 2014. Fines
for driving and using a cell phone (talking, texting, emailing, using the
internet) will start at $75. The only cell phone use allowed for drivers is
hands-free technology such as blue tooth devices. The only other exception for cell
phone use will be in the case of an emergency.

“Too
many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been
prevented,” Quinn said in a statement. “Anyone driving a car should be careful,
responsive and alert behind the wheel.”

Quinn also signed a
measure into law that would increase penalties for drivers who injure or kills
others in crashes caused by the use of a cell phone or other electronic device.

Distracted motorists who
harm other drivers would face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in
fines up to $2,500 and less than a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal car accidents could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to
$25,000 and up to three years of jail time.  That measure also goes into
effect January 1, 2014.

I think we have to take our hats off to the Illinois legislature and Governor Quinn for stepping up to the plate and finally enacting stiffer penalties for those who injure or kill others while texting and driving. I have been calling for this for years and it is good to see that state of Illinois finally take action. 

If you or someone you
know 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 312-588-3384.

Illinois State Police Cracking Down On Distracted Driving

The
Chicago Sun-Times
 reported
recently on the efforts of the Illinois State Police to crack down on
distracted driving, including a warning issued to a man who was shaving while
driving down the Kennedy Expressway. Yes, just like texting, shaving while
driving is distracting and can cause auto accidents. Spotters were looking down
on the southbound lanes of the Kennedy at both Montrose and Addison, alerting
other troopers which cars to stop. One trooper also was shooting video of
distracted drivers, said Illinois State Police Lt. David Byrd.  135 motorists were ticketed for distracted driving
between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in one morning last month, said Monique Bond, a
spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police. The tickets carry a $120 fine.

Electronic
signs on the Kennedy warn drivers of the anti-texting operation. A Chicago
ordinance bans drivers from talking on their phones, but state police don’t
enforce it, Byrd said. State troopers will enforce a statewide ban when it
takes effect Jan. 1, he said.

That’s right. Starting
January 1, 2014, a state-wide ban of hand held devices while driving goes into
effect. This will require any driver to use a blue to tooth or hands free phone
device when driving.

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

What Can Be Done To Limit Distracted Driving Accidents?

 There was an interesting
article in the 
Chicago Tribune’s business section this week
that asked the question: has technology become so overwhelming that is it
causing a collision course between commerce, consumers and government. This is
an interesting question as we live in a society of social networking that can
all be accessed at any time through our smart phones.  As the article
suggests and numerous studies I have revealed, distracted driving can be just
as dangerous as drinking and driving. The next question is, what can the
government due to protect drivers from distracted driving accidents if it is
just as dangerous as drinking and driving?  The suggestion I have made
over and over is to enact stricter penalties for those guilty of texting and
driving when personal injury is involved. How can drivers take the texting ban
laws seriously if there are no repercussions? If people realize that they could
possibly go to jail or face heavy fines and community service for causing a
serious distracted driving accident, then they may think twice about picking up
their phone while in the car.

The article mentioned
that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is meeting in Chicago
next week to discuss 
proposed voluntary guidelines for minimizing the distractions
of in-car navigation and other built-in technology systems.  One proposal
would be to require technology in cars that disables built-in phone
calling, texting, emailing, Web surfing and other distracting devices unless
the car is parked, and it would not allow information to be typed into a
navigation system in a moving vehicle.  That would definitely be a start
but could be costly for the automakers and consumers.  It is good to the NHTSA
is taking these issues seriously.

If
you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicagotruck 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.
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2012 Could Bring New Traffic Laws In Illinois

Last week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White held his Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety meeting in Springfield, which revealed several new laws that could be proposed in 2012. The Daily Herald reported that Secretary White discussed some interesting new laws that could be crossing the governor’s desk by the end of the year. Below are some of the proposed laws:

• Requiring helmets for motorcycle riders and passengers.


Banning drivers from using hand-held cellphones.


Tightening the penalties for misuse of disabled parking placards and licenses. 


Eliminating a loophole allowing 18-year-olds to obtain a license without any
formal driver’s ed classes.


Upping the age teens can apply for learners’ permits from 15 to 16 and
strengthening nighttime restrictions.


Cracking down on repeat offenders caught driving without insurance and driving
on a suspended license.

I think it will be impossible to pass a complete cell phone ban.  Distracted driving has become a huge epidemic in Illinois and throughout the country as it has been proven to be a major cause of car crashes in the law few years. As I have suggested before on this blog, I think one way to curb distracted driving car accidents is to stiffen the penalties against drivers who cause vehicle accidents while using their cell phones. One possibility is increasing the penalties to the same level as a drunk driving accident. It takes time for drivers to adapt to new laws (i.e. seat belt laws) before they begin to change their driving habits. If drivers know they could face stiffer penalties if they text and then cause an accident, it may persuade people to put their phones down when driving.

If you or someone you know has been injured 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 firm website at www.blgchicago.com.