New Study Details Chicago’s Traffic Congestion

Multiple news outlets reported this week that Chicago drivers spend a total of three (3) days a year caught in traffic. This is the 8th worst total in the U.S. These findings come from a study prepared by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, who published their findings last week.

On average Chicago drivers spend 73 hours a year stuck in traffic. The report found that traffic delays cost commuters $1,307 per year.

Those of us who live in Chicago are probably not surprised by these numbers. There always seems to be heavy traffic on the main highways and on Lake Shore Drive, regardless of the time or the day of the week. Experts have stated in the past and continue to state that the main cause of traffic congestion is that more people are working than ever. The economy remains strong and the majority of households have duel incomes.

The only solution appears to be alternative mass transit options. The irony with Chicago is that we already have some of the best train and bus lines in the country. The CTA provides multiple train line options into downtown from all directions along with a constant flow of buses. Those who live in the suburbs have the Metra train lines. Also, over the last 15 to 20 years Chicago has added more dedicated bike lanes than any other major metropolitan city. The only other option appears to be building more roads, but experts have said that this only contributes to the problem. I guess some people will seek employment that allows them to work remotely or from home. Right now I do not see any real solutions for traffic congestion in Chicago.

If you or a loved one have become seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Governor Signs New Traffic Bill Strengthening “Scott’s Law”

Back in 2002, Illinois enacted a new traffic bill called “Scott’s Law,” which required drivers to slow down and safely change lanes when they see any vehicle on the side of the road with its hazard lights on. The Bill was named Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed in 2000. This Bill is often referred to as the “Move Over” law.

In a move to strengthen protections for first responders, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed an updated version of this Bill, which now protects protections to include authorized stationary vehicles with oscillating lights, first responders, Illinois Department of Transportation workers, police and anyone authorized to be on the highway for work-related duties.

The new law increases the minimum fine to $250 for a first violation and to $750 for a second and subsequent violations and adds a $250 assessment fee for any violation of Scott’s Law that will be funneled into a new fund devoted to producing driver’s education materials, called the Scott’s Law Fund.

Criminal penalties will increase to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if a violation results in damage to another car, or a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, if a violation results in an injury or death. Through the new law, an aggravating factor will be added to reckless homicide charges if Scott’s Law is violated.

The secretary of state also must include a written question about Scott’s Law in the driver’s license test. This new law becomes effective immediately.

Changes to Scott’s Law come after three Illinois State Police fatalities have occurred on the side of the road. Two of the three fatalities came as a result of violations of Scott’s Law and the third involved a wrong way driver.

Let’s hope the changes to this law raise awareness for drivers when they see first responders and road workers on the side of the road to slow down and change lanes. These are workers who are in a position to help protect people, but at the same time are in incredibly vulnerable situations while often times standing on the side of a busy highway.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Will Major League Baseball Require Further Expansion Of Protective Nets?

Major League Baseball (“MLB”) Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the media this week regarding growing concern of fan safety from foul balls hit into the crowd. His short answer regarding net expansion was no, MLB would not be expanding protective nets this season. His reasoning was that the structural issues in each individual stadium would make it difficult to mandate changes during the season, but the recent incident at Minute Maid Park will lead to conversations into the off-season.

These comments come a week after a young child was severely injured at a Houston Astro’s game at Minute Maid Park. Following the game several Cubs players (the Astro’s opponent) offered their dismay about the continued threat that fans face from foul balls slicing into the crowd. Balls that can fly into the crowd up to 90 mph. If it was up to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, the teams would provide netting around the entire stadium. Maybe he has a point. This has been an ongoing issue for the MLB dating back the last several years. As I have written here on the past, almost every year a handful of fans have been seriously injured, with one dying at a Boston Red Sox game last season. MLB responded by requiring all teams expand netting all the way to the end of each dugout.

The question is whether the current netting system is enough protection. I don’t think it is. This is especially disheartening because courts have continuously protected major league sports teams from liability when fans are injured by balls at games. The courts have used a common law assumption of risk argument that all fans know that there a risks such as errant foul balls that fly into the crowd. If the netting isn’t expanded this off-season, then I think state legislators should consider laws that would lift the common law protection for major league teams that continue to allow these injuries to occur to their fans.

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

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail Renovations Finally Complete

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual is leaving office at the end of the month after two (2) terms in office. He has his critics and others that praise the work he has done for the city. I think he has done incredible work over the last eight (8) years drawing businesses to downtown, renovation projects and beautifying the city. For example, he promised two (2) years ago that he would expand the lake front trail, which would include separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians. He fulfilled that promise, and as a result we have a safer and more beautiful lakefront park to enjoy. This not only includes better paths for bikers and runner, but also an expansion of green space for visitors to enjoy.

Below is a breakdown of what the lakefront trail renovations entails and how it improved safety for everyone:

  1. More space between cyclists and pedestrians: this is especially important for safety purposes as you have two types of travelers cruising and vastly different speeds.
  2. Limited encounters between pedestrians and vehicles
  3. Less Signage: most of the rules and regulations (including separate directions arrows for bicyclists and pedestrians) are now painted onto the sidewalk. This makes for a more aesthetically pleasing trail.
  4. Updated mile markers: those in it for the exercise can track how far they are running or biking.

This is an incredible accomplishment by the mayor and his office. I believe we will see fewer accidents on the trail, and more importantly more people will be able to enjoy the beautiful lakefront.

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

Chicago Mayoral Candidates Weigh In On Red Light Cameras

The Chicago mayoral election takes place on February 26, 2019. There are currently fourteen (14) candidates. It is a little overwhelming when trying to decide to vote for as there a several familiar names but many no one has heard of before. There are myriad of issues important to voters such as crime, property taxes, jobs, road construction etc… It can be difficult to see where candidate stands and how they stand out from others.

The Chicago Tribune recently collected information on Red Light Cameras, an issue I have studied and written about multiple times in the past. The Tribune wanted to know where each candidate stood. The good news is that all of the candidates they collected opinions on at least want to modify the current number of cameras and at least study the value of keeping them.

The following candidates states they wanted remove the cameras altogether:

Willie Wilson, Gery Chico and La Shawn Ford

The following candidates want to study the value of keeping the cameras and would be in favor of eliminating some of the cameras:

Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza and Jerry Joyce

The following candidates want to review the current fee structure and assess the fairness, especially those in poorer neighborhoods:

Lori Lightfoot and Bill Daley.

This is encouraging news. Most all of the candidates admitted to the newspaper something we have all known for years: red light cameras were a money grab by the city. Studies published by Northwestern and the Tribune, call into question as to whether the cameras actually make intersections safer.

I will be looking forward to see whether the person elected actually lives up to their promise, to at least re-asses the value of the cameras and at least remove the ones that are not improving safety.

If you or a loved one 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.

 

New Illinois Traffic Laws For 2019

It’s a new year, and I am happy to report there are several new traffic laws that were enacted by the Illinois legislature and will take affect this year. Most important, I am excited to write that the Illinois legislature has finally taken the initiative to stiffen texting and driving laws. Also, steps were taken to protect you children and bicyclists. Below are the new laws:

  1. Beginning July 1, 2019, anyone caught texting while driving will be issued a moving violation, which will go on their driving record. The $75 fine will still apply to a first offense. Previously, texting and driving tickets were not a moving violation and did not affect a drivers’ record.
  2. Beginning January 1, 2019 children under two (2) must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Penalties will be up to the discretion of local authorities, but Illinois State Police say a first offense could earn a $75 fine and up to $200 for a second offense. Children who are taller than 40 inches or weigh more than 50 pounds are exempt.
  3. And the “Dutch Reach” method is being added to the Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual, and bicycle safety questions will be asked during the state driver’s license test. The “Dutch Reach” method has drivers and passengers reach across their bodies to open the door after parallel parking. The method is meant to remind people to look back for cyclists before opening their doors in order to prevent “dooring” crash.

This is positive news for all Illinois residents. As I have written over and over through the years, the only thing that will help reduce texting and driving is stiffer penalties. A moving violation may not be far enough, but at least it has some teeth to it. A moving violation adds points to an Illinois drivers’ record, and three (3) within the same calendar year, can cause a drivers’ license to be suspended.

Also, I have been a proponent for bicyclist safety through the years, and the addition of bicycle laws into to the Illinois drivers manual is a huge step forward.

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

New Bicycle Traffic Law Takes Effect In Illinois In 2018

In a legislation session in Illinois we see a plethora of new traffic laws take effect after the new year. This year I am only seeing one major traffic law change. HB 1784 will allow allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones and permits bicycling on road shoulders.

“This new legislation legalizes some common motorist and bicyclist traffic practices,” said Ed Barsotti, Ride Illinois’ chief programs officer, in a statement. “The intent is to make the roads safer while improving car-bicycle interactions.”

The reason for the change in the law is the often times motorists do not want to change lanes in a no-passing zone, and their attempts to pass the bicyclists, while in the same lane, leads to dangerously close traffic. The new law will hopefully give motorists the confidence to safely pass a bicyclist (who is riding less than half the posted speed limit) in a no-passing lane.

I think we can all agree that common sense traffic laws like these should be passed when they solve problems and make the roads safer for motorists and bicyclists to share the road together.

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

City of Chicago Agrees To $38 Million Settlement In Red Light Camera Lawsuit

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that the City of Chicago has come to a preliminary agreement with a class of plaintiffs who sued to city for unfair practices with the red light cameras. The proposed settlement is for $38.75 million, but still needs final approval from city counsel.

The class action lawsuit, which was filed in March 2015 and received class certification last year, alleged that the city violated its own rules by failing to send a second notice of a violation before guilt was determined, and by doubling the fine for late payment of tickets sooner than allowed. Following the filing of this lawsuit, city administration responded by changing the city ordinance to eliminate the requirement for a second notice. In September 2016, the city passed an ordinance to give those who hadn’t gotten second notices from 2010 to 2015 a do-over, sending notices giving people the right to request an administrative hearing to contest their tickets. Emanuel’s lawyers argued that brought them into compliance.

As part of this settlement, approximately 1.2 million people will be receiving 50% back on previously paid tickets.   Those who qualify will receive letters in the mail in upcoming months notifying them they were part of the suit and telling them how to collect their refunds.  Under the settlement, people who got tickets from 2010 to 2015 will be paid out of a $26.75 million pot. The city also will forgive another $12 million in motorists’ unpaid tickets.

I think this a positive development. I think it shows the city is being held accountable for their actions. I have long written on this site that the red light cameras were a money grab for the city. Looking at these lawsuits, settlements, indictments and convictions for the red light camera company Redflex, all I can do is sort of chuckle. It is sad for the city. What is even more sad is that the cameras didn’t make the city safer. Study after study showed that the net benefit of the cameras was a push at best. It makes me think I was right all along. These never should have been installed.

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.

Bicycle Dooring Accidents In Chicago Up 50%

A report from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) stated that there were 300 dooring accidents (when a bicycle crashes into an open car door) in 2015. This was a 50% increase from 2014. There were 203 in 2014 and 270 in 2013 but down from the 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011. IDOT first started collecting this data in 2011. The data also showed that there was a 3% total increase bicycle accidents from 2014 to 2015.

The question remains why there was such a sharp increase in dooring accidents in 2015. The safety advocate group, Active Transportation Alliance, told media outlets that it is unclear whether the increase is merely due to stepped up enforcement and more vigilant reporting by those involved. Regardless, the group also believes that 300 plus dooring accidents per year is unacceptably high.

It must be pointed out that drivers who negligently open their door in front of a bicyclist is punishable under local Chicago ordinance § 9-80-035, which carries a fine of $300.00.

So what can drivers and bicyclists do to avoid these accidents and what can the city do to lower this trend? First, I think the city should at least consider increasing the fine for the offense as a preventative measure. Second, drivers, when parked on busy city streets need take the extra precaution of looking at their side mirrors before opening their doors. Chicago drivers need to accept the fact that Chicago is one of the busiest and most prolific cities for bicyclists in the world and should learn to share the roads, even when parked. And finally, bicyclists must understand how dangerous it is to bike around a crowded city like Chicago and must constantly remain vigilant about their surroundings.

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

 

NTSB: Amtrak Train Sped Up Before Curve; Trying To Determine Why

National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is trying to answer questions in the aftermath of the derailment in Philadelphia this week that killed 8 and injured hundreds others.  What we do know, according to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, In the minute or so before the train crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian. Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.

Mr. Bostian, who is recovering from multiple injures after the train crash, stated that he does not recall anything from the time of the accident. He has refused to speak to police at this point, but did agree to a meeting with the NTSB, which will take place in the next few days.

I think it’s clear, at least from the early investigation, that the conductor negligently drove the train up to 50 mph over the speed limit. This is what appears to be the cause of the train derailment. The question remains whether the conductor did this accidentally, was he distracted or was there a malfunction with the equipment? These are answers the NTSB, the victims and the family of the deceased all want. I will be following this case closely in the coming days and weeks.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago train derailment or Chicago bus accident or suffered from a wrongful death, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076