Illinois Department of Transportation Planning Distracted Driving Summit

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced last week that they are going to hold a safety summit on October 30 in Sangamon County. The summit which will focus on distracted driving. This announcement came one week after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that August 17 was Traffic Fatality Awareness Day.

Some of the current work championed by IDOT includes displaying crashed cars at rest areas as a physical reminder of the importance of responsible driving, dynamic messages signs across the state that display topical messages to capture public attention, and continued development of new ways to improve safety in work zones.

IDOT has previously focused on the seriousness of distracted driving. Earlier this year they launched a multi-media campaign called “Life or Death Illinois.” The campaign focuses the importance of safe driving and appealing to audiences to stop and consider the seriousness of the issues on the state’s roads. This was the first time IDOT expanded its key safety messages beyond the ongoing problems of impaired driving and unbuckled motorists to include new materials aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries tied to motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, work zones and distracted driving.

I will be interested to find out more information about this traffic safety summit. I’m interested to find out if they will be focusing any time on bicyclist safety. The number of bicycle commuters (especially in Chicago) continues to grow and emphasizing safety for everyone on the road should be an priority.  I will also want to know if they will discussing stiffer penalties for those caught and ticketed for driving while using their phones.

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

Arlington Heights Police Department Wins Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that the police department from  Suburban Chicago town of Arlington Heights won the award for the top traffic safety department in the state. The competition rates police departments across the state on their effectiveness in targeting three key traffic safety issues, including speeding, impaired driving and occupant protection.

Arlington Heights submission into this contest included a detailed analysis of traffic crash data and what they are doing to combat the areas most prone to car accidents.  To combat the high rate of traffic crashes at particular locations, Arlington Heights police commander, Greg Czernecki,  described as “overt and covert” strategies, including assigning additional officers to patrol the area. “If there is a high-visibility enforcement where drivers see we are pulling people over, they might think twice before speeding in the area the next time they pass by,” Czernecki said. The department’s traffic safety efforts also include ensuring drivers and passengers are properly using seat belts, looking for impaired drivers and cracking down on distracted drivers, Czarnecki said.

Czernecki also said that combating cell phone use by drivers has been a  focus by their department. He said that 6,000 drivers have been issued citations since the state law against using a cell phone behind the wheel took effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Congratulations to the Arlington Height Police Department on their success in promoting and enforcing traffic safety and for their award.

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

Illinois Passes Two New Traffic Safety Laws

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed two (2) traffic safety bills into law this month. Both will take effect in July 2019. The first law creates stiffer fines for the use of a phone while driving. The new law, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

I guess you could say this is a step in the right direction, but I do not believe these new penalties go far enough. I don’t think these fines are enough of a deterrent for drivers to put their phones down while driving. Also, I don’t see any changes or stricter penalties for distracted drivers who cause car accidents that involve property damage or personal injury. As I have written over and over in the past, unless there are higher fines and/or stricter penalties, drivers will continue to to text and drive.

The other new law adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes.

Those of us who live in the city know that “dooring” accidents are common and incredibly dangerous. It is important for drivers to always look and use caution before opening their driver side door when parked on busy street in order to avoid oncoming cyclists. This is a step in the right direction by educating drivers of their responsibility to protect bicyclists.

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

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.

NTSB Issues Initial Report From Fatal Duck Boat Accident

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) issued an initial report regarding the fatal duck boat accident that occurred on Table Rock Lake in Branson Missouri last month. The accident killed 17 of the 29 passengers who were aboard.

The report states that the boat sank while it was within fifteen (15) of water, and eventually sank to to bottom at 70 feet below the surface. The report, unfortunately, only raises more questions, including why the boat company and its’ captain allowed the boat to go back out into the water while an enormous storm with 70 mph winds was about to hit them? Also, why weren’t the passengers wearing life jackets? Were there enough life jackets? I’m also curious as to the design of these boats? Are they safe or is there a flaw in the design which can cause it to capsize?

Two (2) different lawsuits have been filed already for a handful of the deceased’s families. Once lawsuit was filed in federal court in Kansas City, which names the touring company, their parent companies and also the boat manufacturer. A second lawsuit was filed in state court. It will be interesting to see how much information is gleaned during discovery period of these lawsuits, or if settlements will be reached prior exchange of documents and depositions. I will also be looking forward to the NTSB’s final report.

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

Driver Safety Tips For Your Next Road Trip

I recently received an email from someone at the Million Mile Secrets website with a link to a recent article about safety tips for road trips. This is a website that offers advice about maximizing travel reward point, but also like to give overall travel tips and advise. This recent article provided a great checklist before heading out on your next road trip. I thought it would be helpful to share those tips here.

First is their to do list regarding vehicle safety:

  • Your vehicle has been inspected by a qualified mechanic.  Check your tires, battery, belts, fluids, air conditioner, engine, brakes, windshield wipers, and more.
  • The spare tire is in good condition.  And that you’ve got a vehicle jack.  And that you’ll have Wi-Fi to search “How to change a tire” on YouTube.
  • You have a gallon of antifreeze
  • To bring an empty 1-gallon gas container.  Although let’s face it… the type of person who completely runs out of gas is usually not the type of person who reads these kinds of articles on preparation.  So share this with that one friend you have!   Also, NEVER carry gasoline in your car.
  • To bring a back-up battery for your mobile phone and/or a car charger
  • To have plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, and other items to keep your body healthy
  • To have a paper map in case you don’t have power.  Or at least download maps to your phone in case you don’t have reliable cell service throughout the entire trip
  • You bring your driver’s license and registration, copy of car insurance policy and contact numbers, car’s manual

Second is a safety checklist of items to carry with you, no matter how short you getaway may be:

  • First-aid kit with your prescription drugs, pain relievers, antiseptic, bandages, scissors, medical tape, motion sickness medicine
  • Road flares
  • Extra bottles of drinking water — gallons would be great
  • Rain ponchos / Umbrellas
  • Fully-charged car jump-starter (I have one of these gizmos.  It’s clutch when you can’t find someone to jump your car.)
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Blankets, pillows, or sleeping bags
  • Warm clothes if it’s cold
  • Snacks / food / energy bars
  • Diapers / baby supplies
  • Sanitary pads
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Bug spray
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash
  • And your credit card that gives your professional roadside assistance

Obviously this list in not exhaustive, but it definitely provides a good summary of things you may need in case of an emergency.  If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

CTA To Add 50 New HD Cameras On Train Lines And Buses

Those of us who use the CTA’s trains and buses around Chicago on a daily basis have been somewhat troubled by the slew of crimes that have occurred recently. There have been results of multiple robberies and muggings, especially on the red line, which is a north-south train line that runs from Howard Street on the northside all the way south to 95th Street.  To help combat this issue, the CTA recently announced they will be installing 50 high definition (“HD”) cameras along train stops and buses throughout the area.

These additional cameras are part of the  “Safe and Secure” multi-million dollar project, which, according to the CTA will be one of the most comprehensive surveillance camera networks used by a transit agency. When the upgrade is finished, there will be 1,000 new HD cameras throughout the CTA system and upgrading more than 3,800 older-model cameras across the system. CTA officials believe that if someone commits a crime on a train or bus, there will be a clear video of the incident and they will be caught.

This is money well spent by the CTA and good for the city. Commuters want to feel safe when heading to and from work or just visiting other parts of town. Further, tourists want to feel safe before they plan a trip to Chicago. Other than putting multiple police officers at every stop and on every train and bus, this seems like the most sensible way to combat crime on the CTA.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a Chicago train accident or Chicago bus accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

How The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Janus vs. AFSCME Will Affect Illinois Workers

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, that requiring all public sector workers pay their “fair share” of union dues despite receiving many of the benefits, is unconstitutional. The Court held that requiring payment of these fees was a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights.  The idea behind the law requiring fees from all employees is that the non-union public employees benefit from collective bargaining of the union so they should pay their fair share for the union’s representation, even if they aren’t union members. The ruling strikes down the laws in 23 states (including Illinois).

To clarify, Illinois public sector, non-union members were already allowed to opt-out of the paying fees for explicit political union activity. But Janus argued that, because public sector unions are by definition negotiating with the government, even workplace negotiations over hours or wages amount to political speech. So, a worker who opposed the union’s collective bargaining efforts was having his or her First Amendment rights violated.

To me, the argument by Janus was incredibly rich. Here he is receiving ALL the benefits from the union (better wages, better group health insurance, pension, sick leave etc..), without having to pay all of the fees because he does not believe, politically, in unions. Now, based on this ruling, he and other union members, can opt out of paying all of their union fees.

What does this mean for the public sector unions in Illinois and around the country? I think it is clear that this is a huge blow to unions. Legal scholars and union activists are estimating  10% to 30% unionized public employees might now decide to stop paying union fees. That could cause public-sector unions to lose $1 billion in revenue, perhaps forcing them to lay off lobbyists and organizers. The eventual fallout means it will be much more difficult to lobby and negotiate for a higher minimum wage, better student-teacher ratios, better health insurance etc. Unions have never been weaker in this country than they are now.

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

Do’s And Dont’s When Involved In A Car Accident

It is summertime and there are more vehicle out on the road right now than any other time of year. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of car and truck accidents. If you are in a situation where you become involved in a traffic accident, it is incredibly important follow specific steps in order to protect your rights.

Below is a comprehensive list of things to do and not do if involved in a car crash:

• Do get names, addresses, license plate and phone numbers of those drivers involved. This includes any witnesses;
• Do call the police immediately or have someone at the scene call for you;
• Do take photographs of scene and injuries;
• Do take care of your injuries-concentrate on getting better (i.e. go to the emergency room or set an appointment with your primary care physician);
• Do keep records of your medical treatment and time missed from work;       • Do make sure to purchase adequate full coverage auto insurance, including uninsured motorist coverage in case you are struck by an uninsured driver or the victim of a hit and run;
• Don’t talk or give statement to the other driver’s insurance company;
• Don’t attempt to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company before your medical treatment is completed;
• Don’t wait months from the date of injury before hiring an attorney, as your right to file claim or lawsuit may be barred; and
• Don’t wait days or weeks from the time you are injured to seek medical attention. Your health comes first and also insurance companies are wary of paying for medical bills if treatment is postponed.

This is not an exhaustive list, but they are simple steps you can take in order to protect your rights as accident victim. Should you or a loved become seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, at 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation.