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

Investigation Continues Following Deadly Amtrak Crash

It has been almost three weeks since the fatal Amtrak train accident in Philadelphia and the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is still trying to find answers. First, the NTSB is investigating whether the conductor was on his cell phone at the time of the derailment. The agency says investigators are comparing time stamps from engineer Brandon Bostian’s phone records with locomotive data, radio transmissions and surveillance video to see whether the phone was used while the train was in motion. Phone records show the phone was used to make calls, sent text messages and access data the day of the derailment, but it’s unclear when.

The NTSB is also reviewing what Bostian was doing the day before the train crash to determine if fatigue was an issue.  The first leg of Bostian’s shift on May 12 was particularly grueling, union officials say, with equipment-related delays on his train to Washington shortening his rest break. A system displaying track signals on the dashboard failed, forcing Bostian to pay close attention while reducing speeds far below normal, according to Railroad Workers United. The train reached Washington 26 minutes late, leaving Bostian about an hour to rest, eat and use the restroom before his trip back to New York on the train that eventually derailed.

The NTSB is focusing all of its’ attention on Bostian at this point because he was alone at the controls at the time of the train accident.  There’s no explanation for why the train went from 70 mph about a minute before the crash to 106 mph a few seconds before it left the tracks. Investigators say preliminary inspections found no problems with the track, the signals or the locomotive. They’ve also ruled out a bullet causing a grapefruit-size fracture on the locomotive’s windshield and say they’re uncertain whether anything struck the train.

This is an investigation I will be following closely as there appears, at this point, nothing faulty with either the train or the track. The focus is on the conductor. Was he on his phone or distracted some other way? Did he pass out or faint or have a seizure right before the derailment? Something needs to explain why the train increased in speed so rapidly. The families of the deceased and the injured will want answers.  As do those who continue to ride Amtrak trains.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an Illinois train accident or Chicago CTA accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Horrific Amtrak Train Derailment Leaves 6 Dead, Injures Hundreds

 

Horrible news came in last night as an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia which killed 6 passengers and injured hundreds more. Multiple news outlets reported that the train, which was headed for New York, derailed at about 9:30 p.m. last night in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. Hospitals treated 200 passengers, with half of those being released overnight. Apparently one of those seriously injured in the train accident was the conductor.

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is currently investigating the cause of the train crash and spokesman said they would like to have some answers within the next 24 to 48 hours. CNN reported this morning that Investigators are seriously looking at speed as an issue in the crash. This is partly because of the angles of the train wreckage and the type of damage seen on its cars. To describe how violent the derailment was, an  U.S. Department of Transportation representative stated that the engine and two cars were left standing upright, three cars were tipped on their sides, and one was nearly flipped over on its roof. The seventh one was “leaning hard.”

Among other things, authorities will examine the condition of the track and the train, how the signals operated and “human performance,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said. The speed limit in the crash area is around 50 mph.

There’s not much for me to add to this horrible event other than the NTSB and U.S. Department of transportation will and should perform a thorough investigation on the cause of this train derailment. News reports do not indicate there is anything glaring right now that would pinpoint the cause of this crash. Regardless, I think we can assume there will be multiple wrongful death lawsuits from the families and estates of the deceased and personal injury lawsuits from those who were injured. More importantly, the investigation will hopefully give us answers on how this happened and how this can be prevented in the future.

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

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report In Tracy Morgan Truck Crash

USA Today reported today that the National Traffic Safety Board
(“NTSB”) issued a preliminary report in the Tracy Morgan truck accident case, which doesn’t bode well for the defendant driver or his
employer, Wal-Mart. The report stated that a preliminary
review of the data showed that the truck was traveling at 65 mph for the 60
seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van. NTSB
investigators are correlating these data with the physical evidence. The speed
limit at the traffic accident scene was 45 mph. The speed limit had been
lowered from 55 mph due to construction in the area.  

It was previously
reported nationally (and on this blog) that the driver had not slept for 24
hours prior to this crash. The NTSB report is now saying that electronic
log data show that Roper “had logged 9 hours 37 minutes of driving time
when the crash occurred. With respect to the maximum 14-hour consecutive duty
period for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the driver had logged 13 hours 32
minutes at the time of the vehicle collision.”

Although it’s early, it appears that
the truck driver was negligent in this case and will be responsible for the
damages he caused to Tracy Morgan and the other passengers in his limousine.
Further, Wal-Mart is ultimately on the hook for the damages as they are
responsible for any negligent actions caused by one of its drivers during the
course and scope of their employment. 

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

NTSB Head Urges Obama Administration To Make Safety Changes On Trains

The Associated Press reported
yesterday that the National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is strongly
urging the Obama administration to order immediate changes to trains that haul
crude oil. Concern about the safe transport
of highly flammable oil and ethanol were heightened after a runaway oil train
derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in
Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more
than 1.3 million gallons of crude oil from the booming Bakken region of North
Dakota and Montana. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed
in resulting inferno.

There have been eight oil train accidents in the U.S. and Canada in the past year, including several that
created spectacular fires. Most were in lightly populated areas, although one
crash and fire in December occurred less than two miles from the town of
Casselton, N.D. 

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated
Wednesday, “In addition to moving forward on updating tank car
regulations, we have taken immediate action to issue multiple safety
advisories, conduct investigations, and reach agreements with the rail industry
to reduce speeds, utilize new braking technology and improve first responder
training — an unprecedented, comprehensive approach.”

The issue it appears at this point
is who will fund the upgrades and how the tanker upgrades will implement. There
appears to be a lack of consensus between the oil companies, train companies
and train manufacturers. 

I agree with the NTSB here as the
writing is on the wall for changes. What happens when there is another accident
and more people are injured or die and the evidence shows that the faulty
tankers, if replaced, could have mitigated the damages? The answer is clear:
the oil, train and manufacturing companies will all be on the hook for any
personal injuries, wrongful death or property damages. There could also be a
strong argument for punitive damages since the companies all knew (for a long
period of time) that they needed to improve the quality of the oil tankers
being hauled across the country.

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

Train Operator Involved In Blue Line Crash Fired By The CTA

The CTA Blue Line crash which occurred last Monday at O’Hare airport has been all over the news the last few weeks. One area of contention that I discussed earlier this week was the condition of the train operator at the time of the train accident. There were conflicting reports on how many hours she had worked in the days prior to the crash. The operator freely admitted to National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) that she had dozed off prior to the crash and that she had also nodded off to sleep back while working back in February. Well, the New York Daily News is reporting today that the train operator has been fired. It is unclear whether this will affect the lawsuits that have been filed against the CTA on behalf of some of the injured passengers. The NTSB is also awaiting investigation results on why the emergency braking systems did not stop the train immediately prior to the accident. I’m sure there will be more news to report in the weeks to come on this always changing case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago bus accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 773-456-8858.

Questions Remain Following Blue Line Crash At O’Hare

Very early Monday morning, a Blue
Line train carrying passengers pulled into the station at O’Hare airport, but
instead of stopping, it derailed and crashed into a commuter escalator. As a
result of the train crash, thirty (30) passengers were injured. The Associated
Press
 reported today the train was not speeding as it drove into the
station. National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review of
Monday’s derailment at O’Hare International Airport showed that the train was
traveling at 25 mph — the correct speed — as it entered the
station. Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic
emergency braking system was activated on the tracks, but that it failed it
stop the train as it headed for the platform. “It activated,”
Turpin said. “That’s all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time
or not, that’s an analysis that we have to figure out.”

Another issue that
has raised eyebrows is the possibility that the conductor of the train was
drowsy at the time of the train accident. Several news outlets have reported
that the conductor may have dozed off at the train crash, which would mean he
or she did not brake on time. That is why there is an emergency brake, but
according to the above reports, did not work properly.

If the injuries
sustained by any of the passengers were severe enough, then there will
definitely be lawsuits filed against the Chicago Transit Authority
(“CTA”). The basis of a Complaint at Law will be based on multiple
allegations. First, the driver negligently operated the train by not braking
on time. Second, the CTA was negligent for possibly allowing one of its’
employees to work too many hours or days in a row, thus leading her to doze
off. Third, the CTA did not have a properly working emergency brake, as it
clearly did not prevent the train from stopping or derailing. It could be
alleged that the emergency braking system was not properly installed. This
could in turn lead to lawsuits against the manufacturer or the subcontractor
who installed and/or maintained the emergency braking system. The answers to
these questions will not be known until the NTSB and other experts complete
their full reports on the accident. Regardless, there a liable parties out
there that could have prevented this train accident

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

NTSB Issues Statement On Chicago Blue Line Crash

The Chicago
Tribune
 reported over the weekend that the National Traffic Safety
Board (“NTSB”) 
issued a report on the rogue “ghost train” that slammed
into another train at the Harlem stop. According to the NTSB, the ghost train
that did not have a conductor or any passengers
had
been left with the power still on in a storage yard by CTA workers.
 Apparently, the unoccupied CTA trains are “routinely left powered-up
while stored and with the brake setting that would allow movement.’’

The
runaway four-car train was parked in the yard, at the western terminus of the
Forest Park branch, with power to the propulsion system, lights and other
equipment activated for possibly days before the incident, said a source close
to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The new developments surfaced as the NTSB issued
two “urgent safety recommendations’’ Friday addressing “the need for redundant
protection to prevent unintended train movements on the CTA system.’’

CTA
officials have yet to make any comments regarding this report from the NTSB. I
think everyone from the injured passengers to the CTA should be grateful that
there were not any life threatening injuries as a result of the accident. No
other details have been released about the type of injuries involved in this
train accident. I think the CTA should expect lawsuits on this matter and will
need to re-evaluate its practices for their parked trains.

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

NTSB Recommends States Lower Blood Alcohol Level That Constitutes Drunk Driving

About fifteen years ago,
the National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) made a huge push in this
country to lower to the blood alcohol content that constitutes drunk driving to
.08. Through the federal government they were able to put pressure on
individual states by withholding federal funding for road construction unless
states complied by enacting the new law. This tactic worked and was basically
applauded by lawmakers and interest groups as it appeared to make the roads
safer against drunk drivers.
 

Flash forward to 2013
and the NTSB is now convinced that states should again lower the legal limit
for driving to .05, this according to a report from NBC Online News. According
to the NTSB 1
0,000
people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 170,000 are injured,
according to the NTSB. While that’s a big improvement from the 20,000 who died
in alcohol-related accidents 30 years ago, it remains a consistent threat to
public safety. 

Further,
the NTSB points out most countries in Europe, Asia and Australia have all
lowered the legal BAC limit to .05.  When Australia dropped its BAC level
from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic
fatalities. The NTSB reports that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having
difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions.  At .07,
cognitive abilities become impaired. 

At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39
percent. At .08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100
percent.

The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to
.05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year.  It is also considering
other steps to help bring down the death rates on America’s roads.

The numbers are hard to argue with here.  If drivers fear
being arrested after just a few beers, then there will probably be less drunk
drivers on the road. And, ultimately, this will lead to less car accidents and
traffic fatalities. Regardless, I do not believe this law change is going to
happen overnight. The restaurant, beer and spirit lobby is going push back hard
against this type of rule change. Their argument will be that a lower BAC level
will punish otherwise responsible drinkers and still will not keep hardcore
drinkers off the road. This is a new development worth following in the months
to come.

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

NTSB Recommends Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device For All Those Convicted For DUI

The Los Angeles
Times
 recently reported about a federal program recommended by the
National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), which would require
all drivers convicted of drunken driving to install an ignition interlocking
device before starting their car. An
alcohol-ignition interlock is a device that prevents the engine from starting
until the driver breathes into a device that measures alcohol content to see if
it is lower than prescribed limits. Currently, 17 states require interlocks for
first-time offenders. 

The NTSB ultimately believes this measure will help prevent traffic collisions and traffic fatalities. “The first step to address the number one killer on
our roadways is to do what is proven to be effective — use interlocks for all
DWI offenders,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.

Currently
in Illinois, the interlocking device is available to those charged with their
first DUI and their license has been suspended. The secretary of state allows
drivers to install the device in their vehicle, which allows the charged
offender to legally drive during their suspension.

The
question is whether requiring these devices is overly invasive and costly for
all those who have been convicted of a DUI. The alcoholic beverage
industry opposes a blanket requirement for first-time offenders, but it supports
restrictions for people who have registered exceptionally high blood-alcohol
levels.

Both the Distilled Spirits Council and the American Beverage
Institute, which represents restaurant chains, support ignition interlocks for
first-time convictions of people who posted a blood-alcohol content of .15 or
higher.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago caraccident or Chicago truck accident then call Chicago personal injury lawyer
Aaron Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm
website at www.blgchicago.com.