Chicago Transportation Commissioner: Traffic Crashes Are A Public Health Crises

Chicago Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, spoke to a group at the  City Club of Chicago last week making the claim that the number of traffic fatalities in and around Chicago has created a major health crises. The purpose of her speech was to make the case  for “Vision Zero,” a three-year plan with the  goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries that affect 2,000 people in Chicago each year.

The “Vision Zero” plan The plan will rely heavily on signs, surveillance cameras and “data-driven” enforcement to convince Chicago motorists to stop ignoring the city’s traffic laws.

Th neighborhoods that they plan on focusing on includes: the Loop, the Near North and Near West Sides, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, West Town, West Englewood, Englewood, Washington Park and Grand Boulevard.

“The only goal we should be aiming to achieve is zero. Zero deaths and zero serious injuries. We all have the right to walk, bike, take transit and drive on streets that are safe for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we live,” Scheinfeld said Monday.

A portion of her talk focused on the recent changes in red light tickets. Scheinfeld said the city has also agreed to begin the process to move red-light cameras from six existing intersections and place them at five new locations where the study shows red-light cameras would have a greater impact on safety.

 This is a lofty goal set forth by the city but it is the right one to make. I think it’s almost impossible to think that all traffic fatalities will be eliminated just due to the number of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that pack city streets everyday. If “Vision Zero” merely makes huge cuts in the number of traffic fatalities, I think it will be a success.

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.

U.S. Traffic Deaths Highest Since 2007

The National Safety Counsel reported today that there were 40,200, a 6 percent gain from 2015 and up 14 percent from 2014. This is the first time since 2007 that traffic fatalities exceeded 40,000 in U.S.

As I wrote last month, this is a disturbing trend due advances in auto safety technology that has been introduced in the last ten years. The increase in traffic deaths have been previously blamed on more drivers being on the road due to an improved economy. I believe that this was a legitimate hypothesis for 2012 through 2014 but it doesn’t explain why number keeps increasing.

As I previously discussed last month, the only conclusion I can come to is that people continue to use their phones while behind the wheel. The The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group,  released survey that support this conclusion. Their survey findings showed that 47 percent of motorists are comfortable texting while driving. Some 10 percent of drivers reported driving drunk, and 43 percent of them were involved in a crash while impaired, the group said. The survey also found that 16 percent said they don’t wear seatbelts on every trip, while 25 percent are comfortable speeding on residential streets.

To stem the tide, the group renewed a call for a total ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, even hands-free systems. It also called for mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, a three-tiered driver licensing system for all new drivers under 21 and other steps to curb car crashes.

I can’t say that I agree with the ban on hands free devices, but I am still convinced that there needs to be stiffer penalties on those who text and drive. This is especially true when the phone use results in a car crash that results in a personal injury.

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

 

NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Up 8% In 2016

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced some unfortunate news in a press release last week that traffic fatalities were up 8% last year from the year before for the first nine months of each year. The agency’s statistical projection found an estimated 27,875 people died in vehicle accidents during that time in 2016, while 25,808 fatalities were reported for that same period in 2015. Also, the fatality rate for 2016’s first nine months increased to 1.15 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That represents an increase from 1.10 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during the first nine months of 2015. The agency noted it relied on the same methodology used to generate the estimates for the first nine months of 2016 as it did to record the fatalities for 2015.

The various articles I have read don’t seem to point any specific reason why. The discouraging news is that these numbers are coming off a year where traffic deaths increased 7% in 2015 over 2014. Experts believe the increased travel is mostly a result of an improved economy and low gas prices. But NHTSA’s data experts said increased travel and a better economy alone can’t explain the rise in deaths. “We still have to figure out what is underlying those lives lost,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “If it was simple, we would already know that.”

The increase in deaths is especially concerning because it has happened at time when cars are safer than ever. Nearly all new cars and light trucks now have electronic stability control and rearview cameras, for example. Automakers are also beginning to equip more cars with sophisticated safety technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency-braking and blind-spot monitoring.

So what is the answer? The NHTSA isn’t giving us any plausible explanation. My own theory is that people continue to use their phones when driving. They continue to text and not take advantage of hands-free technology. I think this will continue to be the case as long as the penalties for texting and driving are weak. In my opinion, if an injury occurs from an accident where texting and driving was the cause, then the case needs to be treated like a DUI. At the very least the driver needs to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Without significant repercussions, drivers will not be deterred from typing on their phones while driving. This is the only explanation I can come up with as to why traffic fatalities have continued to rise the last two years.

If you or someone you love has been 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.

 

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.

NHTSA To Focus On Drowsy Driving Prevention

The Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has focused its’ mission in recent years on preventing distracted driving. Multiple campaigns have been introduced to discourage and fight the use of phones while driving. The administration recently announced that, an issue often ignored, is drowsy driving and is an additional issue it would like to combat.

Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently stated: “While not everybody drinks or texts or speeds, lack of sleep is a problem we all face. And falling asleep at the wheel at 70 mph is a recipe for tragedy.”

The NHTSA admits that there is a lack of research and information about lack of sleep and driving. Though Rosekind did report that he estimates that anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent of annual traffic deaths were caused by driver drowsiness or fatigue.  But more recent research by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that up to 1.2 million car crashes are related to drowsy driving and claim 4,000 to 7,000 lives a year, he said.

Part of the campaign will include specific research regarding drowsy driving and exactly how many traffic accidents are caused by lack of sleep. They also plan on researching what specific law are in effect that penalize sleepy drivers. There are a few laws in effect in Arkansas and New Jersey.

I look forward to seeing the results of the research and what exactly they propose to prevent drowsy driving. The obvious answer would be enacting laws that punish people who are driving on a lack of sleep that cause a car accident, especially where the other party is injured. This could be similar to what we have seen regarding distracted driving over the past five (5) years and what we have seen in drinking and driving laws over the last thirty (30) years.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, the call Chicago personal injury attorney, 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 York City Cuts Speed Limit. Should Chicago?

The New York Daily News reported this month that the New York City Council passed legislation that cut the speed limit to 25 mph. The change in speed limit was done in an effort to cut back on traffic fatalities in the city. City officials believe that the slower speed limit was decrease the chance of fatality by 50% compared to vehicles driving 30 mph. No scientific evidence or studies were provided in the article to back this claim.

“By lowering the speed limit, we send a message to drivers that they must not only drive slower, but safer on our streets,” said Transportation Committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez. “For too long our roads have been a battleground between pedestrians and drivers, costing countless lives in preventable situations. This type of environment is unacceptable and will be tolerated no longer.”

Highways and parkways will still have higher limits, while school zones and other spots will still have lower speeds.

Should the Chicago mayor’s office and the City Council here consider a similar measure? Mayor Emanuel has stated over and over that he is committed to protecting pedestrians and bicyclists. He has taken steps by inserting speeder cameras and has opened protected bicycle lanes throughout the city. Emanuel has stated that the cameras were inserted for safety purposes only and are not a money grab for the city. Ok, then why not follow in New York’s footsteps and lower the speed limit. If safety is priority one for drivers and pedestrians, the I believe the mayor and City Council should strongly consider lowering the speed limits, at least in certain areas of the city.

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 312-614-1076.

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. 

Transportation Secretary LaHood Continues To Warn About Distracted Driving

NHSTA Secretary Ray LaHood released a statement today on the eve of the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, promoting the decrease of traffic fatalities in 2009. 2009 statistics showed the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1950.  Although, LaHood warned that the epidemic of distracted driving may be worse than the statistics show.  LaHood stated researchers believe the police reports in many states still do not routinely document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it more difficult to know the full extent of the problem.

These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Tomorrow, I’m convening our second Distracted Driving Summit in the hopes that we can continue to draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving and work together to save lives.”

The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2009.  This news comes as overall traffic fatalities  fell in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1950.

According to NHTSA data, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group.  Sixteen percent of all under-20 drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted while driving.  Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, the 30-39 year old group had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement. 

I will, of course, be updating with the blog with reports and announcements from the Distracted Driving Summit.

If you or somone you know has been involved in a Chicago Car Accident  or Chicago Truck Accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

U.S. Transportation Department Announces Lowest Traffic Fatalities In Six Decades

The NHTSA continues to report positive news about undefined  in the U.S.  According to Transportation Secretary LaHood, the 33,808 undefined  deaths in 2009 was the lowest number since 1980.  In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded:  1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.

Fatalities declined in all categories of vehicles including motorcycles, which saw fatalities fall by 850 from 2008, breaking an 11-year cycle of annual increases.

“At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been.  But they must be safer.  And we will not rest until they are.”

The NHTSA attributes several factors that have led to this decrease:  ““Today’s numbers reflect the tangible benefits of record seat belt use and strong anti-drunk driving enforcement campaigns,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.  “But we are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving.  We will continue to work with our state partners to strictly enforce both seat belt use and anti-drunk driving laws across this nation, every day and every night.”

These are encouraging statistics. I continue to wonder if the drastic decreases the past few years can be attributed to the recession and the overall state of our economy.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident  or truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com