Chicago Department Of Transportation Releases Detailed Car Crash Information

Last month the Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) released to the public detailed car accident data from September 2017 through July 2018. According to CDOT, the information was released as “a move toward transparency and part of push for more analysis that could help the city make headway in its ‘Vision Zero’ initiative aiming at ultimately reducing the number of traffic deaths to zero.”

The data revealed that since September of last year there have been 101,760 car crashes on Chicago streets. Below is some of the more detailed data that was disclosed:

The police department counted 18,885 injuries resulting from the crashes, 100 of them fatal.

• About 4 percent of crashes involved a vehicle hitting a cyclist or a pedestrian.

• Cellphone use — including texting — was found to be responsible in 188 crashes. More broadly, “distraction from inside the vehicle” as well as from other types of electronic devices was the cause of 817 car crashes.

• The police were unable to determine a primary contributor to a crash about 34.6 percent of the time. “Failing to yield right-of-way” was the top known cause of crashes, accounting for 12.1 percent of them. The second-leading cause of crashes was “following too closely,” which accounted for 11 percent.

This release of information was incredibly forthcoming and I believe will be helpful towards the city’s “Vision Zero” plan. I wonder, though, how accurate the distracted driver (texting) information is. If they are merely looking at Illinois Traffic Crash Report data and causes that are checked off, I do not think those numbers would be completely accurate. For example, a driver could have been ticketed for “failure to yield” or “driving too closely” but the crash reports may not show that the driver may have failed to yield because they were looking at their phone. I think a more detailed analysis of these numbers is needed.

If you or a loved one 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.

Safety Questions Loom Following Most Recent Bicyclist Death In Chicago

The Chicago Sun Times reported last week about the death of the bicyclist in Chicago’s West Loop and what safety precautions the city is taking to protect cyclists. A 39 year old woman was riding in the bike lane north bound on Halsted. As she was turning right onto Madison, a a dump truck owned by Lakeshore Recycling Systems, turned at the same time and clipped the woman causing her death. This type of turn is known by cyclists as a “right hook” turn.

Chicago, which is known as one of the premier cities in world for bicyclists, may not be providing all the safeguards needed to protect cyclists. Last year the city passed an ordinance requiring that trucks install side guard rails on trucks similar to the dump truck in question, which helps prevent cyclists from being sucked under the truck in case of a collision. Unfortunately, the truck in question did not qualify for this type of guard rail as ordinance only  only applies to large vehicles working on city contracts worth $2 million or more. The same ordinance also also requires trucks to have convex and crossover mirrors, only went into effect last month, and it’s being phased in over the next four years.

I think the city is falling short in their quest to be the most friendly bicyclist city in the world. They are certainly falling short towards their “vision zero” goal of no more traffic fatalities in the city by 2026. First, I think the city needs to require guard rails on all dump trucks, regardless of the size of their contracts with the city. Second, the time frame for the installment of the convex mirrors should be sped up. A lot of these waste removal companies are private, and they should take these small steps of upgrading their trucks immediately. The short term costs far outweigh the potential future loss of lives and serious injury. Finally, I think safety training for the drivers of these trucks needs to be overhauled. What safety training is required? May be further training and testing should be implemented with a focus on dealing with cyclists and pedestrian safety.

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

City of Chicago To Use Data And Analytics To Reduce Car Crashes

The City of Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) issued a press release this week regarding their “Vision Zero” plan, which is an effort to eliminate all pedestrian traffic deaths in the city by the year 2026. The plan was introduced one year ago.

As part of their  release, CDOT announced it has entered a data partnership with Arity, a subsidiary of The Allstate Insurance. Arity is a connected car technology company that collects nearly one billion miles of driving and connected car data per month from more than one million mobile phone and in-car devices. Arity has a unique, user centric view of a city’s mobility patterns and ability to identify driving behaviors that carry the most risk and cause severe traffic accidents.  CDOT stated that it will be using the data and predictive analytics to better understand the risk factors of specific segments of roadways and intersections throughout Chicago.

From the release: “partnership will be used help the City identify the risk factors on specific roadways and help determine where to best prioritize and focus investments in infrastructure and traffic safety resources, as well as how to tailor interventions to improve road safety in Chicago.”

I think this is an incredibly important investment by the city.  I imagine that the use of this advanced data will  city will be able to determine where to put additional cross-walk and pedestrian signs, where to add four-way stops, where widen roads and I’m sure other safety measures.

It’s interesting that this was just announced. As I wrote within the last few weeks, pedestrian deaths in Chicago are outpacing the number of fatalities over the last several years. “Vision Zero” is off to a slow start, but hopefully this partnership with Arity will help curb that trend.

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

Chicago Bicyclist Fatalities Down So Far In 2017

There have been three (3) bicyclist fatalities through the first eight months of 2017. There were five (5) fatalities during the same time period in 2016. The accidents all occurred on the West side or near West side of the city. This data was provided by the mayor’s pedestrian advisory committee.

In a small way, I think this is good news. As I have written recently traffic fatalities in Illinois and Chicago specifically have increased over the last two years, including the first part of 2017. Hopefully this trend regarding bicycle deaths in Chicago, is something we will see statewide and regarding a traffic fatalities.

As I have written in the past, Chicago has implemented Vision Zero, which is a traffic safety initiative with a goal of zero traffic fatalities in the city by the year 2026. Much of Vision Zero’s safety initiative will focus on West side neighborhoods such as  Near West Side, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale. I hope this will include additional bicycle only dedicated lanes and other engineering improvements that will make that part of the city safer for bicyclists.

I will be very interested to see the plans for Vision Zero unfold and eventually introduced by the Mayor’s office and city hall. Let’s hope the first part of 2017 for bicyclists is a trend that will continue to improve.

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

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.

Study Shows Ashland Ave Deadliest For Chicago Pedestrians

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that through an investigation of police statistics, that Ashland Avenue has been the most dangerous for pedestrians over the last four (4) years.

The statistics showed that from 2014 to 2016 the most traffic fatalities occurred on Lake Shore Drive (15), Ashland (14), Western Avenue with (14), Milwaukee Avenue (9), and Stony Island and North avenues (8). Those numbers include motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

The road with the most pedestrian fatalities over this period was Ashland with 10.  Why is Ashland such a major problem for traffic accidents? Once reason the article notes is that on the South side of the city motorists who want to avoid the expressway, choose to drive on Ashland, which makes it a much busier street than others.

The article also notes that being poor can also mean you’re more likely to die in a traffic crash. The city’s Transportation Department reported this month that people experiencing medium and high levels of economic hardship make up 82 percent of the city’s traffic deaths.

What can be done on busy streets like Ashland to protect pedestrians?

One is to install refuge “islands” in the middle of crossings so pedestrians can stop and wait midblock if the light changes, and traffic bump-outs. The latter means extending concrete into the intersection to reduce the space needed to cross and get cars to slow down, Such measures have been added during resurfacing in crash-prone areas.

 

Reducing the width of vehicle lanes on arterials helps slow traffic, Schady said. Another solution, especially in the suburbs, is reducing driveway access points. Countdown lights help pedestrians see how long they have to make it across. Traffic lights can also include a delay before the light turns green so pedestrians can clear the intersection before traffic moves again.

A way to calm traffic on Ashland in particular could be a rapid transit bus system between Irving Park Road and 95th Street. The idea, proposed by the CTA and the Transportation Department in 2013, faced opposition from residents and businesses and is stuck in the planning phase.

All of these ideas are part of the “Vision Zero” initiative that the city undertook in 2014, which was to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city.

Once thing for certain is that motorists need to constantly be aware of their surroundings when driving in the city. You have to be aware of course of other drivers, but also pedestrians, especially on busy avenues like Ashland.

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

Chicago Announces Launch Of “Vision Zero” Aimed To Eliminate Traffic Deaths

The Chicago Mayor’s office announced last month that it is launching “Vision Zero” action plan with the goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2026. In a press release may Rahm Emanuel state, ““Every day someone is injured or worse as the result of a car crash on Chicago’s streets… these crashes are preventable, and that is why we are stepping up our efforts, developing partnerships with communities and private industry. We are going to use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago.”

All of the details of this new safety program will be released later this Fall, but the press release stated that the plan will look at traffic safety as a public health issue and identify priorities for the City’s engineering and education initiatives, as well as enforcement support for reducing crashes. City departments are currently working with stakeholders and the public to develop the final goals and strategies included in the plan. In 2016, more than 100 intersections will receive additional infrastructure to make it safer for people walking to cross the street. Among these is a Safe Routes to School project on the West Side that has installed 10 pedestrian refuge islands along Madison Street and Chicago Avenue. There are 10 schools located within a half-mile of these high crash areas. The City is also enhancing safety by making traffic signal improvements, resurfacing hundreds of miles of streets, installing speed feedback signs, and adding or improving 25 miles of bike lanes this year.

The city is treating this as a public health issue, as they should. Chicago has seen six bicycle traffic fatalities this year. That number equals the total number of bicycle traffic deaths from last year with three months still yet to go in 2016. Chicago is at a crossroads right now with bicycle safety. Chicago was recently named the top bicycle friendly city in country by Bicycling Magazine. We have more bicycle commuters than ever along with Divvy bike riders crowding our roads. This is a good thing. So are all of the dedicated bike lanes. But bicycle traffic accidents and fatalities are still prevalent. Bicyclers and motorists need to learn to co-exist. We need to be mindful of each other and always observe the rules of the road. “Vision Zero” is the perfect stepping stone to help lead to a better co-existence between bicyclists and motorists. I will be writing more about the initiative once the full plan is announced.

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