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.

 

Consumer Report Call The Lexus GX 460 Unsafe

Toyota continues to face struggles as Consumer Report recently rated their Lexus GX 460 as unsafe. The magazine gave the SUV vehicle a “do not buy” label in its’ latest report, which is the first time its has done so since the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited.

The magazine came to this conclusion after a test of the vehicle’s performance during unusual turns, the rear of the vehicle slid until it was nearly sideways before the electronic stability control system kicked in.  Consumer Reports said in real-world driving, such a scenario could cause a rollover accident.

“In a real world situation, by that time, the car can hit the curb or the side of the road and that’s the situation where, in a vehicle like that, it could cause it to roll over,” said Gabriel Shenhar, senior auto test engineer at Consumer Reports, who was one of four testers to experience the problem.

Toyota responded by stating that it is concerned with Consumer Reports’ findings, adding that its engineers will try to duplicate the magazine’s tests to determine its next steps. “Please keep in mind that the 2010 GX 460 meets or exceeds all federal government testing requirements,” the automaker said. “We take the Consumer Reports’ test results seriously.”

Toyota continues to face problems. First it was the unintended acceleration problems with its’ Prius vehicles among others and now the roll-over problem with its’ high-end Lexus SUV line. It will be interesting to see if its’ testing results differ from Consumer Report’s conclusions.

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

Obesity Could Protect Drivers Involved In Collisions

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute recently published a study stating that obese drivers could be safer than non-obese drivers involved in car accidents, as long as they are wearing seat belts.

The study revealed that found that belted male drivers who are obese (those with a Body Mass Index between 35 and 50) have a 22 percent lower probability of being killed if involved in a fatal car crash than belted male drivers who are underweight (those with a BMI between 15 and 18.4).

However, the opposite is true for unbelted males, they say. The probability of being killed is 10 percent higher for unbelted male drivers with a BMI between 35 and 50, compared to those with a BMI between 15 and 18.4.

Our findings suggest that for increasing BMI, the optimal balance between the positive effects of extra cushioning and negative effects of extra mass and momentum depends on the gender of the driver and the use of safety belts,” said Sivak, research professor and head of UMTRI’s Human Factors Division.

Click here to read the entire article.

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

Dangerous Dropoffs Causing Accidents On Nation’s Highways

The New York Times recently reported about the dangers caused by drop offs left over from highway construction zones.

Car accidents involving dangerous drop-offs kill about 160 people and injure 11,000 each year. Numerous studies have shown that the steeper the drop-off, the greater the danger.

In Texas in 2002, seven people were killed when a car slipped off a sharp edge of roadway and onto the shoulder, causing the driver to overcorrect into the path of a minivan. Four years before, six people died in a succession of car accidents in another Texas work zone, where contractors had failed to smooth out the edge of a newly paved lane.

there are virtually no laws or regulations mandating safety measures in work zones. There are standards, but they are loosely enforced and differ from state to state. As a result, there are few penalties levied against contractors when, because of ignorance, carelessness or a desire to save money, guidelines are violated. Problem contractors often just keep on getting hired, and dangerous practices remain uncorrected, sometimes for years.

“A lot of work-zone crashes are entirely preventable,” said David Holstein, Ohio’s chief traffic engineer. “It’s not explainable by just driver error or inattention. We can intervene to keep them from happening.”

$27 billion from President Obama’s economic stimulus package is prompting a nationwide boom in highway construction. Federal transportation officials are concerned that work-zone fatalities, after declining in recent years along with traffic deaths in general, could rise again.

To read the complete article, click here.

It will be interested to see if the federal stimulus money will result in a decrease in dangerous drop off and eventually better and safer roads.

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

Transportation Secretary LaHood Lauches Holiday Crackdown On DUIs

USA Today recently reported Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is launching a national crackdown on DUI and Drinking and Driving during the holiday season.

“Our feeling is in states where you have real tough law enforcement, where the law enforcement people are no-nonsense, those are the states that have been able to reduce their numbers,” LaHood said. “In states where they don’t have tough law enforcement, or they don’t do it as aggressively as other states, the numbers are not that good.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the drunken-driving fatality rate in the USA declined about 7% from 2007 to 2008, continuing a decades-long drop. Drunken-driving deaths have been trending downward since 1982, two years after Mothers Against Drunk Driving began focusing attention on the issue. There were 11,773 such fatalities in 2008, a 44% drop from the 21,113 in 1982, according to NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation data

LaHood, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and John Saunders of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) launched the annual national winter holiday crackdown on impaired driving. Thousands of law enforcement agencies across the USA will be targeting drunken driving in the campaign, which runs through New Year’s Day. Each state has its own version.

To read the complete story, click here. 

Drinking and driving deserves this type of press from the federal government. It is a great step towards making the roads safer during the holiday season. Remember to appoint a designated driver or to use cabs when you are out and about attending holiday parties.

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.

New Technology Helps Drivers Put Their Phones Down

The New York Times recently reported about new devices being installed into cars, which allows drivers to put their phones down when on the road.

In 2008, 918,000 hands-free systems were installed in cars, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. By the end of 2009, the industry group estimates, that figure will climb to 1.6 million systems. In many cases, hands-free kits are packaged with other options that together cost around $1,000. “We are trying to take what people are doing and make it safer,” said Doug VanDagens, the director of Ford’s Sync project. “Voice provides the safest options and keeps the driver’s eyes on the road.”

Manufacturers of such systems argue that their products make driving safer. As proof, they point to a Virgina TechTransportation Institute study published this summer that concluded that hands-free conversations were only a minor distraction to drivers.

But not everyone agrees that this technology is the safest option.

Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for example, show that drivers are four times more likely to have a car accident if they are talking on the phone — hands-free or not — while driving.

The reason, researchers say, is that drivers often become engrossed in their conversation, rather than focusing on driving, even if their hands are on the wheel. “Once a conversation begins, we don’t see a difference between hand-held and hands-free,” says Adrian Lund, president of the institute.

To read the entire story, click here.

I have written in the past about the dangers of talking on cell phones and texting while driving. The new technology being introduced is a positive sign that car companies are looking to make the roads safer for everyone. I look forward to seeing the introduction of new technology in the coming months.

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

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Stresses Safe Parties Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), issued a press release this week urging families and friends to provide a safe environment for their parties over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The release suggested people take the following steps when planning their Thanksgiving parties:

  • Designate a sober driver before celebrations begin.
  • Never serve those under the age of 21 alcohol.
  • Plan safe parties, including providing non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serving alcohol the last hour of the gathering
  • Be prepared to get everyone home safe in case your plans or individual circumstances change 
  • To read the entire press release, click here.
     
    Thanksgiving is a great time to spend with family and friends, and let’s be honest, these get togethers almost always include alcohol. Help each other out and prevent drunk driving by following the above tips.

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

    Illinois Police To Add Patrols During Holidays To Rude Crashes

    The Illinois State Police have announced that they are going to increase their patrols over the holiday season to hopefully decrease the number of car accidents throughout the state.

    Many departments are participating in a statewide initiative called Operation Save 100, aimed to decrease by 100 the number of vehicle-related fatalities in Illinois until Jan. 31, 2010.

    “We’re going to do some saturated seat belt patrols, and we will be concentrating on various violations,” Spring Grove Police Chief Tom Sanders said.

    He said increased seat belt use would safeguard travelers against winter weather conditions, as well as drunk or aggressive drivers heading home from holiday parties.

    “When the conditions are icy and bad, it’s even more important,” Sanders said.

    On the night before Thanksgiving, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office would conduct two initiatives, one that focused on seat belt and car seat use and another that would target drunken driving.

    The sheriff’s office is teaming up with Huntley Police and the Illinois State Police for the drunken driving enforcement.

    Sheriff Keith Nygren credited such enforcement initiatives with contributing to the declining vehicle-related fatality rate in the county.

    “Focused and intense traffic enforcement can make a difference, … and that is what this is all about,” he said.

    To read the complete story, click here.

    Please be careful when driving over the holidays. There are a lot of crazy drivers out there and the roads can be treacherous.

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

    Suspended License Could Lead To An Impounded Car In Chicago

    The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the Chicago City Counsel has their eye on improving public safety by hammering down on drivers that are caught and ticketed with a suspended license. The new ordinance requires that drivers will pay $665 ($500 fine and $165 towing fee) to retrieve their cars.

    Ald. Thomas Allen, 38th, acknowledged his ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, isn’t perfect. But he said it’s a strong deterrent for scofflaws who were repeat offenders among the 22,904 citations Chicago police issued last year for driving with a suspended license.

    “You’re not going to eradicate the 22,000-plus cases of people getting pulled over for this,” Allen said. “But if they have to pay this $665 every time, it’s going to give them pause.”

    The new rule gained momentum after Allen brought up the case of James E. Cox, who was cited more than a dozen times with driving without a valid license but kept driving, records show. Cox is now charged with causing the Oct. 21 wreck that killed Kim Brown, a 27-year-old pregnant mother of five, as she stood on a West Side sidewalk.

    Allen pointed out Cox would have racked up thousands of dollars in fines to keep his car on the road before the accident that killed Brown. “He would have thought twice before driving again, facing those costs,” Allen said.

    This is an aggressive move by the Chicago City Counsel, which has public safety in mind and will hopefully lead to a decrease in car accidents around town.

    To read the complete story, click here.

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

    Illinois Department Of Transportation Issues Winter Driving Tips

    Winter is right around the corner and the Illinois Department of Transportation has issued a list of tips to help deal with the treacherous road ahead.

    IDOT recommends your vehicle contain the following items this winter. These items should make your life easier and more importantly, much safer.

    Your vehicle should be equipped with a winter emergency survival kit. The following items are recommended:

  • 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.
  • Have a fun and safe holiday season and be careful on the roads.

    Should you or someone you know become involved in a car accident, truck accident or suffer from a personal injury, then call attorney Aaron J. Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.