Illinois Department of Transportation Planning Distracted Driving Summit

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced last week that they are going to hold a safety summit on October 30 in Sangamon County. The summit which will focus on distracted driving. This announcement came one week after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that August 17 was Traffic Fatality Awareness Day.

Some of the current work championed by IDOT includes displaying crashed cars at rest areas as a physical reminder of the importance of responsible driving, dynamic messages signs across the state that display topical messages to capture public attention, and continued development of new ways to improve safety in work zones.

IDOT has previously focused on the seriousness of distracted driving. Earlier this year they launched a multi-media campaign called “Life or Death Illinois.” The campaign focuses the importance of safe driving and appealing to audiences to stop and consider the seriousness of the issues on the state’s roads. This was the first time IDOT expanded its key safety messages beyond the ongoing problems of impaired driving and unbuckled motorists to include new materials aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries tied to motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, work zones and distracted driving.

I will be interested to find out more information about this traffic safety summit. I’m interested to find out if they will be focusing any time on bicyclist safety. The number of bicycle commuters (especially in Chicago) continues to grow and emphasizing safety for everyone on the road should be an priority.  I will also want to know if they will discussing stiffer penalties for those caught and ticketed for driving while using their phones.

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

Illinois Traffic Fatalities Up Again In 2017

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), 1080 people died from traffic accidents in 2017. That is up two (2) from the year before and more than what was recorded in 2014 and 2015.

“Distracted driving continues to be a concern, but it is incredibly hard to detect and enforce, some things we’ve noticed are an increase in number of motorcycle fatalities. Last year in February, it was warm enough for motorcyclists to be out on the road already.” said Kelsea Gurski, with IDOT.

IDOT said 158 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents last year. That was four more than had been killed the year before and 40 more than in 2014.

I have not seen any numbers to date trough the first two (2) months of 2018, so it is unclear whether we are at a better pace that 2017.

I agree with the IDOT spokesperson who stated that disctracted driving his hard to detect and enforce. As I have written in the past, the best solution, in my eyes, is to increase the fines and penalties for someone who is caught using their phone while driving. That is the only deterrent. I think it is fair to say that the stricter penalties for DUIs is one of the reasons we have seen a drop in drunk driving fatalities over the last 20 years.

If you or someone you know has been involved 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.

IDOT And CMAP Propose New Initiatives To Relieve Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

Those who commute by car to work everyday in and around Chicago, know how stressful the traffic can be. It can be stressful just trying to drive to the one of the airports, or coming down to the city over the weekend. Chicago has been documented as one of the worst cities in the U.S. when it comes to traffic gridlock. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) and (“CMAP”) have recently teamed up to plan alternative solutions for freeing up some of the traffic gridlock in and around Chicago.

One of their first proposed ideas is congestion pricing. Congestion pricing would allow motorists to pay for the privilege of bypassing gridlock. According to CMAP, a congestion pricing added lane can shorten a motorist’s morning rush-hour commute by a third to two-thirds. Rush-hour traffic in un-tolled lanes would drop by a quarter to a third, according to CMAP research.

The second suggestion is  using expressway shoulders for buses, an idea already used on the Jane Addams tollway and on Interstate 55.

Another suggestion to their plan would be installing sensors along expressways that gather real-time data on bottlenecks, so motorists know ahead of time which stretches to avoid.

This all seem like legitimate ideas, but do we know if they will really work? Also, how would the state pay for all of this? Once possible solution is an additional gas tax.

I am a little dubious of all of the above ideas. I am not an engineer or a traffic expert, but none of the plans take the actual number of total commuters of the road. The additional bus lane is a start, but I really cannot think of many people that would take a bus out of or into the city due time on the commute. I would like to see further study into high speed trains and/or additional train lines. If Metra and the state can offer faster trains and/or more trains in and out of the city, I believe we would have more commuters deciding to stay out of their vehicles. Of course I don’t know the cost and whether this is even feasible, but if we want less vehicles on the road, it seems to me the most viable option would be a faster train system.

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.

IDOT Pushes “Winter Weather – Get It Together”

If you live in the Chicago area, or really anywhere in the Midwest, you know that winter is upon us. We had our first snow last weekend and we are looking at upwards of 12 inches of snow through tonight in the Chicagoland area. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) has been working hard to help drivers avoid traffic accidents and stay safe on the roads during the winter months. IDOT issued a press release recently called “Winter Weather – Get It Together,” which provides a list of driving tips to use when the roads are snowy and icy. Below is a list of driving tips:

  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois.
  • Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.
  • Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. A snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see him, but he may not see you.
  • Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
  • Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
  • Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All of them are prone to icing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route. Consider taking public transportation if it is an option.
  • Prepare an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency.
  • Follow Scott’s Law. Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles. ·
  • For more winter driving tips, check out this short IDOT video

Please be careful when driving in winter weather, but if you or someone you love is injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation. Call 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation.

IDOT Urging Pedestrians & Motorists To Pay Attention In Order to Avoid Accidents

As I wrote recently, traffic accident and traffic fatalities were up in Illinois in 2015 from 2014 and appear to up again in 2016. More specifically, car accidents involving pedestrians are up in Illinois from this time last. The Chicago Tribune took note of these recent trend in article asking the question why? According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”), they are urging both pedestrians and drivers to put their phones down and focus on the the road in front of them.

“We urge pedestrians to use caution and common sense when crossing the street — use crosswalks where available and make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. We urge motorists to be cautious as well — be alert for pedestrians, especially when approaching intersections,” IDOT Secretary Randall Blankenhorn said in a statement.

Some local suburbs, including Naperville, are making an effort ticket distracted drivers. Naperville joined several other suburbs recently along the Route 59 corridor, including Aurora and Plainfield, as part of a joint enforcement campaign that gave out 32 citations for cellphone violations in a single day.

Is this enough? Probably not. It seems every time I’m driving around town I see drivers around me with their noses in their phones. This occurs all the time, and not always when at a stop light. So what is the solution? As I have written many times before, I believe Illinois needs harsher penalties for distracted drivers. Especially when there is a traffic accident, injury and certainly a fatality. This means higher fines and the threat of jail time.

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

2013 Saw A Slight Increase In Illinois Traffic Fatalities

The Chicago
Tribune
 reported this month that there was a slight increase in
traffic fatalities in 2013. T
here were 973 crash fatalities in 2013 compared with 956 fatalities in 2012, a nearly 2 percent
increase.  Despite the slight uptick, the report points out that this was
the fifth year in a row where car accident deaths were below 1,000. This is a dramatic
change from previous decades regularly saw traffic deaths well over a
thousand. 
 

The
Illinois department of transportation attributes this recent level of traffic fatalities to the strict enforcement of traffic laws like the seat belt
law. IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said the department credits the
historically low fatalities in recent years to “increased seat belt usage
as a result of Illinois’ primary belt law, education and enforcement,” and
to safety improvements to the roads. But the department is not satisfied,
she said. “Our goal is to drive zero fatalities to a reality in
Illinois and get everyone to their destination safely,” she said.  

The
uptick in traffic deaths in Illinois comes as the number of traffic fatalities
in the U.S. is expected to be lower in 2013 than it was
 in 2012. In Wisconsin, for example, officials expect that traffic deaths in
2013 — totaling 519 in late December — were far below the state’s five-year
average of 571.

As I have written about
in the past, there are two new laws that went into effect in 2014 that could
the number of traffic accidents in Illinois. First, is the total ban of hand
held cell phone use throughout the state. The second is the speed limit
increase on certain interstates to 70 mph. It will be interesting to see which
direction the number of car crashes and traffic fatalities ebbs or flows in the
next year with these new laws in effect.

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

IDOT Releases Map Of 70 MPH Speed Limits

As reported by the Chicago
Tribune, 
the Illinois Department of Transportation has released a map
of the interstates that will have a 70 mph speed limit starting on January 1,
2014. 1,900 of the state’s nearly 2,170
miles of interstate will be able to travel at 70 mph instead of the
existing speed limits, generally 65.  But only about 30 percent of the
Illinois Tollway’s 286-mile network will get the higher speed limit, according
to a map released by IDOT. And in the Chicago area, the 70-mph limit will be
posted only on five fairly short stretches of interstate. Those are sections of
I-80 and I-55 in Will County, a stretch of I-57 in far southern Cook County and
all of Will County, a portion of the I-88 toll road in far western Kane County
and part of the I-94 tollway in northern Lake County.

The sponsor of the bill,
Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, is not pleased
at all with the lack of 70 mph speed limits around the Chicago area. Orberweis
told the
 Tribune, “It’s just clear that they (IDOT) are
disregarding the will of the people.” 

In a
statement, IDOT said the new speeds will be placed on interstate stretches
“where deemed reasonable and  
safe.” Department spokesman
Paris Ervin said the agency conducted traffic engineering studies of all
locations with limits below the existing 65-mph maximum and “other
locations deemed necessary.”

I think
this change in speed limits makes sense for most of the interstates around
Illinois. As I have written about in the past, drivers rarely follow the 65 mph
speed limit for the most part anyway. The question that remains is whether this
will make the interstates more dangerous and more prone to deadly car accidents. I will be following closely to see if the amount of auto accidents
in these areas increases and/or the number of fatal car crashes increases now
that the speed limit is higher.

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

 


IDOT’s Winter Weather Driving Tips

Winter weather has hit hard and
early this year in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Though it’s very important
to have your guard up when driving, it is especially important when there is
ice and snow on the roads. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”)
posted some important tips on their website for both how to handle the road and
also a survival  kit in case you happened to become stranded. Read the
below tips so that you will be ready this winter to avoid car accidents and
dangerous situtations:

Survival Kit:

·  Ice scraper,
snow brush, rags and paper towels.

·  Jumper
cables, basic tool kit, antifreeze, no-freeze windshield washer fluid and extra
drive belt(s).

·  Shovel,
traction mats or old rugs, tire chains, salt, cat box litter or sand.

·  Blankets and
extra clothing including hats, socks, waterproof boots, coats and gloves.

·  Non-perishable,
high-calorie food. 

·  Candles,
waterproof matches and a metal container (coffee can) in which to melt snow
into water.

·  Flashlight
with extra batteries, flares or roadway reflectors.

·  A basic
first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.

·  A cellular
telephone with a backup power source might be the single most important safety
item available. A citizen’s band radio is a good alternative.

Driving tips: 

·  Buckle those
seat belts! (It’s the law)

·  Be prepared
to turn back or seek refuge if conditions become threatening.

·  In RAIN,
drive with your headlights on dim. 

·  In FOG,
drive with your headlights on dim, or use fog lights.

·  If the fog
is too dense, pull off the roadway and stop. Do not drive at less than 10 miles
per hour.

·  In RAIN,
FOG, SNOW or SLEET, do not overdrive your headlights.

·  Stay within
the limits of your vision.

·  Keep your
windows clear of snow and ice. Do not start until your windshield is defrosted.

·  Drive slower
and increase your following distance. Your speed should be adjusted for the
conditions and match the flow of traffic.

·  Roadway
conditions may vary depending on the sun, shade or roadway surface. Watch for
slick spots especially under bridges, on overpasses and in shaded spots. Be
prepared to react physically and mentally. 

·  If the
pavement is snow or ice covered, start slowly and brake gently. Beginbraking
early when you come to an intersection.

·  If you start
to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the
skid until you feel you have regained traction then straighten your vehicle.

·  When you
approach a snow plow from behind, pass with care and only when you can see
the road ahead of the plow. You should not try to pass in blowing snow. There
may be a vehicle in that cloud of snow! Allow more distance between you and the
plow, they may be spreading salt.

·  Be alert
when you approach a cloud of snow which covers the road, especially on passing
lanes of interstates or freeways. Slow down and approach with caution. A snow
plow may be at work clearing the lane or preparing to turn around.

·  Be careful
after a minor rear end accident. If you are bumped from behind and you do not
feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion the other driver and drive to the
nearest police station, 24-hour store, service station, hospital or fire
station.

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

Data Shows Illinois Motorcyclists Are Drinking And Driving At Higher Rate Than Other Motorists

The Illinois Department of
Transportation (IDOT) recently collected auto accident data which revealed that
motorcyclists involved in fatal automobile crashes in the late afternoon and
early evening are more than twice as likely to have been driving under the
influence of alcohol.  IDOT and National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows for the 3 p.m. to 5:59
p.m. timeframe that 15 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurring during that
time involve a drunk rider compared to 6 percent of passenger vehiclefatalities during the same time. Data shows from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m. to be even
worse as 24 percent of motorcycle fatalities at that time involve a drunken
rider compared to 11 percent of passenger cars.   

“Whether
you are traveling in a vehicle or riding on a motorcycle, safety should be the
number one priority,” said ISP Colonel Michael Zerbonia. “Every second counts
when it comes to road safety and our officers will be enforcing all traffic
laws and reminding motorists that seat belts save lives.”

In
2012 in Illinois, 148 motorcyclists died in motor vehicle crashes. That was a
slight increase from 2011 motorcycle fatalities when 145 motorcyclists lost
their lives. Motorcycle riders continue to be over-represented in Illinoismotor vehicle crash fatalities. In 2012, motorcycles made up 3 percent of all
registered motor vehicles, yet motorcycle riders represented more than 15
percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

Obviously
drinking while driving any type of vehicle is incredibly dangerous but the
higher rates for motorcycle driver fatalities is incredibly alarming. The
penalties and criminal implications are the same whether driving drunk in a car
versus a motorcycle, but it appears that more awareness needs to be made for
motorcycle drivers as they are left exposed while riding atop their bikes
unprotected. I will be keeping an eye out to see if IDOT or any other entity
spreads awareness on the danger of drinking while driving a motorcycle.

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

IDOT Launches”Gear Up – Ride Smart” Campaign To Promote Motorcycle Safety

Despite this recent cold
weather, Spring is here and many around Chicago and the state of Illinois are
breaking out their motorcycles in order to finally enjoy some fresh air. There
will be many more motorcycles on the road and with that, comes the potential
for an increase in motorcycle accidents and car crashes. In an attempt to
combat this, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has launched
“Gear Up – Ride Smart” campaign to promote motorcycle safety.
 They are partnering with the Illinois
State Police (ISP), Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) and A Brotherhood
Aimed towards Education (ABATE). The campaign promotes safe motorcycle riding
through continued training and use of proper gear and reminds all motorcyclists
to get licensed, get proper training, and keep motorcycle equipment well
maintained. “Gear Up – Ride Smart” also warns against riding after drinking.

Motorcycles
represent 3 percent of total vehicle registrations, yet motorcycle fatalities
account for more than 15 percent of all vehicle fatalities. Statistics show
that about half of motorcycle rider deaths occur in crashes involving only the
motorcycle, and approximately 40 percent of those fatalities involve motorcycle
operators who rode after drinking.

“Motorcyclists
are at an increased risk of injury or death when involved in a crash,” said
Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “When alcohol is added, the
results often are horrendous. Illinois has embraced ‘Driving Zero Fatalities to
a Reality’ and wants all travelers on Illinois roadways to be safe. That’s why
we encourage all motorcycle riders to get prepared early in the spring season
by taking a training or refresher course on motorcycle safety, and to always
wear the proper gear and never ride impaired.”

This
is a great campaign and both motorcycle riders and regular drivers need to be
aware of their surroundings and share the road. Everyone has the right to be
out there and the roads and we need to respect each other, especially when the
weather warms up and there is more traffic. 

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