Illinois Passes Two New Traffic Safety Laws

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed two (2) traffic safety bills into law this month. Both will take effect in July 2019. The first law creates stiffer fines for the use of a phone while driving. The new law, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

I guess you could say this is a step in the right direction, but I do not believe these new penalties go far enough. I don’t think these fines are enough of a deterrent for drivers to put their phones down while driving. Also, I don’t see any changes or stricter penalties for distracted drivers who cause car accidents that involve property damage or personal injury. As I have written over and over in the past, unless there are higher fines and/or stricter penalties, drivers will continue to to text and drive.

The other new law adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes.

Those of us who live in the city know that “dooring” accidents are common and incredibly dangerous. It is important for drivers to always look and use caution before opening their driver side door when parked on busy street in order to avoid oncoming cyclists. This is a step in the right direction by educating drivers of their responsibility to protect bicyclists.

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

Illinois Passes New Bicyclist Safety Law

According to various news outlets, the Illinois passed HB 1784 last week, which allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones and permits bicycling on road shoulders. Under the new law, a driver is allowed to cross into the oncoming lane in a no-passing zone to safely pass a cyclist who is riding at less than half the posted speed limit when there is sufficient distance to do so. Drivers must not exceed the speed limit and pass with at least three feet of clearance.The new law will take effect on January 1, 2018.

The purpose of the law is aimed at preventing vehicles from trying to  squeeze by a bicyclist while in the same lane, which can lead to sideswipe crashes.

This seems like an obvious bill to pass, but sometimes the obvious isn’t always codified into state or local law. I think this is important (especially in Chicago), where we are seeing more an more bicyclists on city streets and major roads throughout the state. Now motorists should not be hesitant to safely switch lanes in order to avoid contact with a bicyclists. Motorists can now do this legally.

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

New Illinois Traffic Laws For 2017

January is almost over and I thought it would be important to list the new traffic laws that went into effect in 2017:

  1. Scott’s Law, also referred to as the “move over” law, requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when driving by a stopped emergency vehicle. Beginning in 2017, the law also will include any vehicle on the side of the road with hazard lights flashing, according to a statement from the Illinois State Police.
  2. Speeding between 26 mph and 35 mph over the posted limit is a Class B misdemeanor. A class B misdemeanor in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of of 180 days in county jail, with fines up to $1500.
  3. Driving more than 35 mph over the speed limit is now considered a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor in Illinois is punishable up to a year in jail with fines up to $2,500.
  4. Those who have been convicted of driving without insurance could have their vehicle impounded if they are stopped by police within 12 months of the first citation.
  5. Fines will double for drivers caught trying to go around lowered railroad crossing gates. Under a new amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code, drivers who disregard activated gates and warning lights at railroad crossings will face a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

It must be pointed out that if someone who is charged with speeding over 25 mph over the speed limit there is a possibility the ticket could be amended to below 25 mph in order to avoid a misdemeanor conviction. This is not guaranteed. It could depend on the prosecutor and the judge handling the matter and whether the driver has a clean driving record. You will be required to hire an attorney if you are charged with a misdemeanor.

Drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Remember, 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 at 312-614-1076.

Should Rideshare Companies Track Car Accident Statistics

I read an interesting article in the Red Eye this week, that investigated whether companies like Uber, Lyft and Taxi companies track the number of traffic accidents their drivers are involved in. You can read the article here.

The answer to the above question is no. Not only do rideshare and cab companies not track their driver’s car accidents, but neither does the state. All car accidents in Illinois that are reported to law enforcement must include an Illinois Traffic Crash Report. The investigating agency must fill out the report, which includes all of the driver information, whether medical treatment was required, whether traffic citations were issued and, most often, which driver was at fault for the traffic accident. The report also includes a box to check whether a driver was in a commercial vehicle (i.e. a tour bust or commercial van etc..) The report does not include a rideshare or taxi company classification. So, in theory, it is incredible difficult to to track the number of car accidents are caused by rideshare and taxi companies each year.

Should this change? Should the city of Chicago or the state alter the traffic crash reports to include a section regarding rideshares and taxi companies? I think the answer is yes. How do we know how safe these companies and their drivers are? I think it would be beneficial to start tracking these accident and classifying the type of drivers involved. This type of data would help local and state legislators determine if stricter driver qualifications are required for Uber and Lyft drivers. Should background checks and stricter driver testing be required? I don’t know the answer but we could learn a lot more if there were actual statistics taken on the number of car crashes occur every year.

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 at 312-614-1076.

Wisconsin Woman Accused Of Using Facebook At Time Of Car Crash That Killed 3

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that the driver of who was involved in a car crash that killed three (3) children may have been chatting on Facebook with her phone right before the accident.

Cellphone records show that the driver was sending and receiving Facebook chat messages just before the crash, Pierce County investigators allege.  Authorities believe driver inattention contributed to the Dec. 12, 2013, car crash on Wisconsin Highway 35 near Prescott.

The woman’s SUV collided with a truck after she apparently lost control on a curve. The woman’s 11 year old daughter and two 5 year old nieces died from injuries in the car crash. The truck driver and his two (2) passengers were not injured in the accident.

I have not written about distracted driving in quite some time but this is still a pervasive problem in this country. Studies have shown that texting or emailing while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. A lack of focus for a second or two is all it takes for a car accident to occur. Texting and driving has been banned in Illinois but questions remain as to whether penalties a harsh enough. I believe if it is found that the texting was the cause of an accident, and there was an injured party, then there needs to be tougher penalties. I believe that texting and driving that causes an injury should be treated the same as a DUI, which is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. Class A misdemeanors in Illinois can be punishable up to a year in jail.

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

Illinois’ New Traffic Laws For 2015

2014 was a busy year for the Illinois Legislature and outgoing Governor Quinn. Many new laws were passed, including several new traffic and boating laws. Below is a recap of the relevant laws that went into effect on January 1, 2015.

Higher Tollway Speed Limits

Senate Bill 2015, clarified an earlier bill that raised the speed limit to 70 mph on some highways and interstates. This new bill (which was vetoed by Governor Quinn and later overridden by the Illinois House) raises the speed limit on tollways and expressways in and around the Chicago area and metro east St. Louis. The earlier bill did not include the Chicago or St. Louis areas.

Change In Traffic Stops

A new law sponsored by Senator Mike Noland, an Elgin Democrat, allows drivers who are ticketed for minor traffic stops like speeding, are no longer required to hand over their license as a bond assuring they will appear in Court. Now ticketed drivers can sign an agreement promising to pay the ticket or to appear in Court.

Second, there was a new bill outlawing ticket quota systems by police agencies.

New Boating Laws

Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, won approval for a new law that requires a boat that’s towing someone to display an orange flag.  This bill was passed in honor of the 2012 death of Libertyville 10-year-old Tony Borcia. Tony died after he fell off a tube being towed in the Chain O’ Lakes and was hit by another boater.

Another allows police to seize the craft of an intoxicated boater in some cases.

As always, I will continue to post and analyze any new proposed or passed Illinois traffic laws.

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

Georgia Man Ticketed For Eating Hamburger & Driving

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a Georgia man was given a traffic citation for driving and eating a hamburger. More specifically, the officer cited the driver for:  “exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”

It does not appear that there is a specific law against eating and driving in Georgia but the officer followed the man for two (2) miles and concluded that he was driving erratically enough that he deserved a ticket.

I did some research and there is no law in Illinois that forbids eating and driving. The Illinois State Police’s website does caution against eating and driving as ways to avoid distracted driving. Their website states: “Stop to eat or drink. Drive-through windows and giant cup holders make it tempting to have a meal while driving, but you’re safer when you stop to eat or drink. If you can’t avoid eating while driving, try to avoid messy foods.”

This may appear as a funny news bit but I believe eating and driving can be just as distracting as texting or using your phone while driving. All it takes is a second or two of not paying attention that can cause a driver to lose control and swerve into another lane or rear-end a fellow driver. This is especially true for messier foods. I agree with the State Police. Put the food down and wait until you can park somewhere to finish your meal.

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.

Car Accidents In Illinois Are On The Rise

The Chicago Tribune reported this week a wealth of statewide traffic accident statistics. Although the number of traffic fatalities in Illinois is down from last year, the number of overall crashes remains high and has state officials worried. There have been on average, 782 car crashes per day in Illinois this year. This is the highest rate since 2008. State officials are citing that post-recession traffic along with the drop in gas prices has led to the high number of car accidents.

Despite the increase in car crashes, state officials are pleased to report that traffic fatalities are on the decline.  “If the provisional numbers for 2014 hold up, we could have the lowest number of fatalities in Illinois in several decades,” said Guy Tridgell, an IDOT spokesman in Chicago. “We are confident that we will have fewer than 1,000 motor-vehicle fatalities in Illinois for the fifth consecutive year. Just 10 years ago, we were well over 1,300.”

State safety officials said the installation of more guardrails, barrier systems and rumble strips on roads, along with recently enacted traffic laws, are all having a positive impact. This year, for example, it became illegal for drivers in Illinois to use electronic devices unless they are hands-free.

Poor decision making remains a constant cause of traffic accidents. Almost a third of the crashes involved driving at a high rate of speed, while another third are alcohol related.

One statistic that was not mentioned in the article or by state officials is the number of car crashes related to cell phone and hand held device usage. I would like to see what the number of car crashes are related to distracted drivers. Although I have been impressed with the Illinois Legislature’s effort to curb distracted driving – – and I have written so in the past – – I would still like to see stiffer penalties for those charged with texting and driving which results in a death or serious injury. Although the increase in traffic due to the improved economy is definitely a factor, I strongly believe texting and driving has to be another reason we are seeing an increase in traffic accidents in Illinois.

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


New Illinois Bill No Longer Requires Ticketed Drivers Hand Over License As Bail

The Chicago Tribune reported last month about a new bill that was signed into Illinois law that no longer requires drivers cited for traffic violations hand over their license to the Court as bail insuring they attend court or pay their fine. Up until the bill was signed, certain speeding violations and other moving violations such as causing an accident would require the ticketed driver hand over their license to the police officer as bail. The driver would have their license returned to them by the judge at court after either pleading guilty or after the ticket was dismissed.

Senate Bill 2583, sponsored by Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and State Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015. “A driver’s license is an important form of identification, and without it many residents may run into problems during everyday situations when a valid ID is required,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement. “This common sense legislation will allow law enforcement officials to continue doing their jobs while letting motorists hang onto a vital piece of identification.”

I think this bill makes sense and held little leverage over the heads of ticketed drivers. Drivers know, or at least soon find out, that failing to show up for court or paying their fine could lead to a suspended driver’s license or sometimes a warrant for their arrest.

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

Are New Regulations Coming For Illinois Ride Share Companies?

I wrote last week about ride share
companies like Uber and Lyft, and their decision to retain insurance policies
that would cover their drivers during periods they were driving and searching
for fares or in between fares. According to ABC 7 News, state
legislators and city officials are continuing their push for more regulations
that will insure that both the drivers for these companies and the vehicles are
to drive.  A lawsuit has been filed by cab companies in federal court to
put a halt to ride share companies because they do not believe they undergo the
same scrutiny as their companies and drivers go through. This may change with
proposed local and statewide legislation that is on the table. 

In Chicago, before a cab driver can
become licenses, he or she has to go through a thorough background check, which
includes: fingerprinting each new applicant
for background check with the CPD; applicants must submit a “court
purposes” certified copy of their Illinois motor Vehicle record that is
issued by the Secretary of State; applicants red-light/speed camera ticket
history and any debt with the City of Chicago; and they also have to pass a
drug test and a physical exam administered by a licensed IL physician.

Currently, drivers
for ride share companies like Uber and Lyft do not have to undergo any of these
background checks or testing by the city or state (though it was reported that
the companies themselves do their own background checks). A new city ordinance
called the Transportation Network Providers ordinance (TNP) would change this.
Under the proposed ordinance, TNP companies will be required to conduct
background checks to ensure that all drivers maintain no disqualifying criminal
and driving records, undergo training, and operate vehicles that meet annual
inspection requirements.

One area the ride
share companies appear to better protect consumers than cab companies in
through insurance. All of the ride share companies require their driver carry
their own basic insurance ($50,000/$100,000), plus an umbrella policy of
$1,000,000 that each company carries. Cab companies are only required to carry
a minimum of $350,000 in insurance.

I agree with the
above proposed legislation. Ride share drivers are performing the same task as
cab drivers and they should be required to undergo the same background checks
and safety training. The only way to insure this would be through the proposed
city and/or state legislation. Hopefully this will insure the safest possible
drivers for the consumer.

If you or someone
you love has been involved 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.