Does Sneezing And Causing An Accident Fall Under The “Act of God” Defense

I have written over and over about the many things that can distract drivers. Of course, the most obvious is texting and phone use. Others have included everything for tooling with the radio to eating and driving. All of these activities can be very dangerous as all it takes is second or two of lost concentration for a car accident to occur.

The Chicago Sun Times reported some odd news last week when a semi-truck driver’s ill-timed sneeze sent his rig rolling onto its side Monday morning in northwest Indiana. The driver, a 48-year-old Hobart man, was not hurt in the crash, which happened on a ramp from State Route 249 to I-94 near Portage, according to Indiana State Police. As the driver entered the ramp, he started to sneeze, which caused the truck to run off the roadway and onto a grassy area where the rig rolled onto its side, State Police said.

Luckily there were no injuries to the driver and the roll over didn’t cause any other traffic accidents. I think it would be tough here to put any blame on the driver as this may fit into the “act of god” category rather than any negligence on his part. Similar “act of god” situations include suffering a heart attack, stroke or seizure while behind the wheel and causing a traffic accident. In these situations it is difficult to prove liability on the part of the driver who caused the accident, and often times defense attorneys are successful in dismissing claims or reducing liability when there is the “act of god” defense. Regardless, luckily no one was injured as this was a semi-truck accident.

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

 

Illinois Governor Quinn Vetos Bill That Would Raise Truck Driver Speed Limit

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Illinois Governor Quinn used his veto powers to overrule a bill that would raise the speed limits for semitrailer trucks from 55 mph to 60 mph on interstates in Chicago and the surrounding area. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Jim Oberweis, passed the House 114-0 and the Senate 58-0.  Oberweis said the bill was designed to reduce the differential between cars going 70 mph and trucks limited to 55 mph.

“It would make the roads safer,” said Oberweis, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin this fall. “There would be only a 10 mph differential rather than 15.”

Quinn’s responded by stating that this was all about driver safety:  “no amount of fines, penalties or jail time can ever replace the lives of those whom we have lost to fatal accidents on our interstate highways,” Quinn said.

Citing the recent traffic deaths tied to big trucks traveling at high speeds, Quinn said, “The convenience of increased speeds for truckers on roadways does not outweigh the safety risks to children, families and our dedicated public servants.”

Quinn cited a July 21 truck crash on Interstate 55 near Arsenal Road in the southwest suburbs. An Indiana trucker, Francisco Espinal Quiroz, 51, of Leesburg, Ind., allegedly was speeding in a work zone when his truck slammed into three vehicles, killing 5 people. He has been charged with falsifying duty logbooks used to verify that a driver is not spending too many hours on the road without rest.

I think the Governor was correct in his decision here. Obviously the Chicagoland area is one of the most congested areas with traffic and trucks make up a big percentage of that congestion. Semitrailer trucks, if not driven properly or at a safe speed, can be prone to traffic accidents. Further, the results of a truck accident can prove much more deadly than regular vehicles based on the size of a semitrailer. I do not believe Governor Quinn was overstepping his boundaries as Governor in this situation.

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

Illinois Ranks Eighth Deadliest State For DUI Fatalities

The National Highway Safety and Traffic Safety Association (NHSTA) released the 2007 and 2008 data for alcohol related highway deaths. Unfortunately, Illinois ranked as the eighth deadliest state.

There was some encouraging news as 2008 compared to 2007, the overall fatality rate declined from 1.36 to 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), and the alcohol-impaired driving fatality rate declined from 0.43 to 0.40 highway fatalities per 100 million VMT. From 2007 to 2008, the alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate declined in 40 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and remained the same or increased in the remaining 10 States.

Impaired-driving laws have been enacted in all 50 States and the District of Columbia that make it illegal for a driver or a motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or above to drive a vehicle. In 2008, the alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate declined from 0.43 highway fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2007 to 0.40 in 2008.

Hopefully 2009 statistics will show a decline for Illinois and the stricter DUI laws led to safer for roads.

To read the complete news release and view all of the statistics, click here.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Illinois Bans Texting While Driving

I have written about this issue several times in the past and we knew a law was coming. While the time is now as Illinois will become the 17th state on Thursday to ban texting while driving, a safety worry that has caught the attention of the federal government.

Gov. Pat Quinn will sign an amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code that prohibits writing, sending or receiving text messages while driving, said the governor’s spokeswoman, Marlena Jentz. The bill does make texting exceptions for drivers who pull over to text or shift their car into park or neutral to message while stopped in traffic.

Studies have shown that those who text while driving have an exponentially greater risk of an car accident or near car accident.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that truck drivers who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to be in a car crash or nearly get into car wrecks than undistracted drivers.

Compared with dialing, talking, listening or reaching for an electronic device, texting posed the greatest car accident risk, the study found — most likely due to the almost five seconds researchers found the drivers’ eyes were off the roadway while texting, said Rich Hanowski, the director of the Center for Truck and Bus Safety at the transportation institute.

The focus on texting while driving comes after a some high-profile accidents.

In September, a California commuter train engineer missed a stop signal while trading text messages with a friend, leading to a collision with a freight train that killed 25 people, according to federal investigators.

A mass-transit accident in Boston, Massachusetts, injured 62 people in May. The operator of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trolley was later charged with gross negligence after he admitted he had been texting seconds before the collision with another trolley, according to the Suffolk County district attorney and a National Transportation Safety Board official.

To read the entire story from CNN.com, click here.
 
This is a big step made by Illinois lawmakers to make our roads safer. Based on all the studies we have read about and that I written about in previous posts, this is not surprising at all. It will be interesting to look at car accident statistics in the next few years.

If you or someone you know was involved in an Illinois car accident or an Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

New Technology Is Key To Reducing Severity Of Car Crashes

ABC News recently reported that there has been new car technology has decreased the severity of car accidents.  A report from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety concluded that new advanced in automobile technology could decrease accidents by as much as one-third.

The report reveals that new crash avoidance technology is becoming more effective in protecting passengers in a number of different kinds of crashes, including severe frontal crashes, the most common fatal accident. Equipping vehicles with this technology could result in the prevention or reduced severity of as many as 32 percent of the 5.8 million crashes that occur annually.

Each year, there are nearly 700,000 automobile accidents that result in injury. Approximately 148,000, or 21 percent, could be mitigated by these technologies; of the 33,035 fatal accidents annually, as many as 31 percent could be prevented or have an altered outcome, as revealed by this new study.

The new crash avoidance technologies range from features that offer the driver a visual or audio alert signaling he or she should take corrective action to avoid an imminent accident, to more active measures that allow the car’s computer to intervene and apply the brakes to prevent a collision.

The safety systems include forward collision warning, which alerts a driver to brake more quickly when he or she is closing in on a car ahead; blind spot detection to make drivers aware of vehicles in adjacent lanes; headlights that map to the steering wheel so that they adjust as the car turns; and lane departure warning, which alerts the driver if the vehicle is drifting off of the road unintentionally. Such advanced innovations even take into account driver distraction.
 
To read the entire article about the increase new automobile technology, click here.

It will be interesting to see if there continues to be a downward trend in car accidents as the technology continues to improve.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident or truck accident, call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.