Harvard Professor Touting Tougher Penalties For Texting And Driving

The Chicago Tribune published a fantastic interview with Jay Winsten, an associate dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, regarding his role in the creation of the designated driver and now his push prevent distracted driving. You can read the entire interview here.

Two things stand out in this interview for me. The first is that Professor Winsten points out that texting and driving continues to grow in this country because it doesn’t have the stigma that drinking and driving does. “There’s absolutely no social stigma connected with distracted driving today—unlike drunk driving, which took years to develop that social stigma. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), starting in 1980, had a lot to do with that. But today, you know, if someone asks me at a cocktail party what I’m working on, and I say distracted driving, they’ll laugh and talk about their own behavior and how they’ll have to change because they themselves are a distracted driver. There’s no stigma of any kind associated with it. . .”

The professor is absolutely right. Plus, he points out that not everyone drinks, let alone drinks and drives. On the other hand, almost everyone has a smart phone, young and old, and people have trouble putting them down.

The second point he makes is that anti-texting laws are difficult to enforce, thus people aren’t afraid to pick the phones up when behind the wheel.

So what is his solution? The first is to push for better technology. Technology (maybe an app) that will tract you phone usage while driving. Technology that could possibly limit your phone usage while driving. His other suggestion is a second round of legislation. Legislation with tougher fines and stricter enforcement. I’m going to pat myself on the back here, but this is something I’ve been writing about for at least 5 years. I have said over and over on this blog, that the laws against texting and driving need to have teeth. Legislators need to consider making texting and driving a Class A misdemeanor, which is the same as a first time DUI offense. I don’t necessarily believe all texting and driving offenders should be charged at that level, but at least in situations that result in traffic accidents, or personal injury.

Finally, Professor Winsten is pushing for another awareness campaign, similar to the designated driver ads we saw in the 1980s. With the help of Hollywood, he believes this could be just as effective in curbing distracted driving.

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 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.

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

Chicago Ranked Again As One Of Worst Traffic Cities

A new study released by TomTom.com has concluded that in 2015, Chicago has the 8th worst traffic in the United States. According to the study, an average commute that should be 30 minutes is typically 50 minutes in Chicago. The worst times for commuting are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Thursday evenings. The best times are Friday mornings and Monday evenings. 

Luckily for us who live here in Chicago, the city did not rank in the top ten worldwide for the worst traffic. According to the sturdy, the worst city for traffic in the U.S. is Los Angeles and the worst in the world is Mexico City.

What does this mean for traffic accidents for Chicago drivers? Obviously, this is not good. The more congestion, the higher the odds a commuter will be involved in a car crash. Plus, the added commute time can add to stress levels, which can affect a driver’s ability. I have no data or studies to back this up, and it is simply this writer’s opinion, but I believe if there is bumper to bumper traffic, the more likely a driver will pick up his or her phone and become distracted. Think about it. If a driver is bored and sitting in traffic, doesn’t it seem more likely that they will tool around and text on their phone? I believe so, and I also believe that the more distracted drivers out there will obviously lead to even more car accidents

If you or someone you love has been involved 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.

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. 

Does ADHD Increase The Chance Of Car Accidents

As we all know there are multiple
causes for auto accidents. Causes can range from texting and driving to
drinking and driving. Another cause is simply not paying attention while on the
road. According to psychcentral.com, a major cause for drivers not focusing on
the road is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). The website believes that
medication that treats this condition will help adults to pay attention to the
road and help prevent car accidents

 The site a Swedish study discovered that up to half of the
traffic accidents involving men with ADHD could be avoided if the men were
taking medication for their condition.  Investigators studied 17,000
individuals with ADHD over a period of four years (2006-2009) using various
population health’ registers.

They then
analyzed the risk of traffic accidents for individuals diagnosed with ADHD
and how ADHD medication influences this risk. 

“Even
though many people with ADHD are doing well, our results indicate that the
disorder may have very serious consequences,” said Henrik Larsson, Ph.D.,
associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and
Biostatistics.

The study
also demonstrates in several different ways that the risk of traffic accidents in adult men with ADHD significantly reduces if their condition is
treated with medication.

In the
study, researchers discovered the incidence of traffic accidents was lower
among men with ADHD who received medication than among men with ADHD who did
not.

This is an
interesting study, which raises multiple questions. Why do drivers feel the
need to pick up their phones while driving? Also, is the lack of medication
causing drivers to lose focus on what is in front of them? I think the answer
to the second question is yes. The first question is less clear. Not every
driver that uses their phone while driving has ADHD, but is constant phone use
making the condition worse, or worse, causing ADHD drivers to pick up their
phone more often. I don’t think there is an easy answer but there would
definitely need to be more research done. I do think it is clear that if you
have been diagnosed with ADHD and you plan on driving, then please take your
medication. You could help save your own life and the lives of others.

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 312-588-3384.

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. 

Oak Park, IL Considers Ban On Eating & Driving

It is illegal to text and drive and Illinois. The law was enacted to prevent distracted drivers from causing car accidents. It was reported today in the Local Trib online site, that the town of Oak Park, which is located just west of Chicago, is considering an ordinance that would outlaw eating and driving. This is another step by local governments to help curb distracted driving accidents in their communities. A benefit that the town pointed out was that if tickets were issued, and are contested, they would be heard at the Village court call rather than the Cook County court call in Maywood. This apparently apparently would help the officer logistically attend court.

The ordinance was referred to the village’s legal department and it is not known when it will come back to the board. Trustees will be planning the 2012 budget for the next two months before going on their annual December hiatus, so the ordinance might not be addressed until next year.

It will be interesting to see if other Chicago area towns follow in Oak Park’s footsteps if this new law passes.

If you or someone you know has been 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.

Illinois Hosting Distracted Driving Summit This Week

I have written numerous times in the past about distracted driving and the dangers of texting and driving. The National Highway & Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has hosted a distracted driving summit the past two (2) years, which has been aimed at sharing research and statistics and also spread the word about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. Illinois is getting into the act as they are hosting their own summit on Thursday April 21 in Addison, IL. 

The speakers for this event include:

Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation                                                                                                             

Jesse White, Secretary of State, Illinois                                                                                                                               

John D. Cullerton, Illinois Senate President                                                                                                                     ]

John D’Amico, Illinois Representative

The summit will include a victim impact panel, updates on new  and proposed changes in legislation, updates on research and, of course, keynote speeches by Secretaries LaHood and White.

It will be interesting to hear the outcomes from this event.

Remember, if you have been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call
Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.