Toyata Releases Full List Of Recalled Vehicles

I wrote earlier this week about the Toyota recall and the remedies they were implementing regarding their floor mat and accelerator defect. Toyota has now extended the number of vehicles and has released the whole list on their website. The following vehicles have been recalled:

2008-2010 Highlander
2009-2010 Corolla
2009-2010 Venza
2009-2010 Matrix
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe

Toyota released the following statement:

“Toyota’s remedy plan is to modify or replace the accelerator pedals on the subject vehicles to address the risk of floor mat entrapment, even when an older-design all weather floor mat or other inappropriate mat is improperly attached, or is placed on top of another floor mat.  Floor surface modifications are also being considered and will be included in the remedy plan for any model for which it is deemed appropriate.
Initially, dealers will be instructed on how to reshape the accelerator pedal for the repair.  As replacement parts with the same shape as the modified pedal become available, they will be made available to the dealers for the repair. Customers who have had the pedal reshape remedy completed will have the opportunity to receive a new pedal if they desire, after replacement pedals become available.
In addition, Toyota will replace any Toyota all-weather floor mat in a subject vehicle with a newly designed mat, free of charge. For those customers who have the previous design all-weather floor mat but do not need or want the newly designed all-weather floor mat, Toyota will recover the previous design all-weather floor mat and reimburse its price.”

I wonder if the Matrix Zipcar I use up the street is still around?  I guess I will find out soon enough.

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.

Oprah Launches “No Phone Zone” Campaign

Even mega-stars like Oprah Winfrey are jumping into the effort to promote safe driving. Oprah’s website dedicated a section to distracted driving and is urging drivers to avoid texting while driving.

On the website, Oprah asks motorists to commit to not text or talk on their phones while driving. On Monday, the
talk show host plans to feature those who have lost loved ones in distracted-driving accidents on an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

In a statement, Winfrey says she’s “passionate” about the issue and asks viewers to spread the message to their families, friends, co-workers and community.

Winfrey says she wants people to know “how absolutely stupid it is that we continue to text and drive.”

I don’t think there could be a bigger stamp of approval for the prevention of using cell phones while driving than from Oprah.  I think I might have to watch Monday’s program…. a show I don’t think I’ve watched probably since college.  I will definitely have a follow up entry regarding the show this week.

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.

Tips For Safer Highway Construction Zones

According to Illinois Tollway statistics, our state averages about 7,000 construction zone accidents in a given year.  To help prevent these accidents and promote safety, the state of Illinois is promoting the following tips to drivers:

Understand where a work zone begins and ends and that reduced speeds are required.

SLOW DOWN whether or not workers are present.

Don’t tailgate.

Expect the unexpected.

Stay alert and minimize distractions.

Understand that penalties for hitting a worker are severe.

Watch for workers.

Watch your speed at tollbooths

Slow down when entering/exiting toll plazas.

Stay in your lane when entering/exiting toll plazas.

Remember, ramp plazas have I-PASS Only lanes.

Never stop in an I-PASS Only lane.

To read the entire press release, click here.

Some may view these ass obvious tactics to avoid construction zone accidents, but due to the number of crashes every year on Illinois highways it is necessary to publish this type of advice.

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

Toyota Announced Remedy For Floor Mat/Accelorator Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on November 25, 2009 that Toyota has identified a vehicle-based remedy to fix a sudden acceleration safety issue involving floor mats trapping accelerator pedals in various Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota announced the recall of these vehicles in early October and said it would soon develop a vehicle-based remedy to reduce the risk of a car crash due to accelerator pedal entrapment.

The models involved in the recall are: 2007 to 2010 MY Camry, 2005 to 2010 MY Avalon, 2004 to 2009 MY Prius, 2005-2010 MY Tacoma, 2007-2010 MY Tundra, 2007-2010 MY ES 350, 2006-2010 MY IS 250, and 2006 to 2010 MY IS 350.

NHTSA said Toyota plans to reconfigure the accelerator pedal, and in some cases the shape of the floor surface under the pedal, to address the risk of pedal entrapment due to floor mat interference, particularly with regard to inappropriate or improperly attached floor mats. At the same time, Toyota will develop replacement pedals for these vehicles, which will become available for some models in April 2010. Toyota will provide owners with the new pedal, when it becomes available, even if the vehicle has already received the modified pedal under the recall.

In addition, vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mats will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front-passenger side all-weather mats.

Unsecured floor mats can cause a huge impediment to drivers and it is good to see that Toyota has stepped up to he plate and fixed this problem.

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

Illinois Has Record Low Car Accident Fatalities In 2009

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently released traffic fatality statistics for 2009, which the lowest amount of deaths in 88 years.

“With the assistance of the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, and local law enforcement, Illinois continues to make great strides in the area of public safety,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. “This is a proud and historic day for the men and women dedicated to traffic safety who have made traveling in our state safer.”

In 2008, 1,043 fatalities occurred on Illinois roadways, and in 2007, 1,248 highway fatalities were reported. Since 2003, the data compiled represents a historic downward trend in crash-related deaths. During the same timeframe, safety belt usage has increased each year from 76 percent in 2003 to nearly 92 percent in 2009.

“Throughout the year, the Illinois State Police has partnered with the Illinois Department of Transportation and local law enforcement agencies to implement safety programs that target car crashes on our roadways,” said Director Monken. “There is little doubt the combination of programs designed to address teen driving, impaired driving, and safety belts contributed to successfully reducing Illinois fatalities to their lowest level in 88 years.”

It would be interesting to know if these statistics are reflective of the recent recession. Regardless, it is encouraging to see that Illinois highways were safer in 2009.

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

Study Shows Use Of Bicycle Helmets Has Not Increased In Recent Years

Those of us who live in Chicago know that the number of bicycle riders has increased tremendously the last few years. Mayor Daley and city legislators have done an excellent job of designating bicycle lanes on major streets throughout the city. This has been a focus for the Mayor to promote a healthier and greener city.  Despite the increase of bike riders, a recent study shows that the use of helmets has not increased.

The American College of Surgeons published a recent study which showed that the severity of injury and hospital length-of-stay for bicycle injuries at one trauma center has increased significantly over the past 11 years. Despite the wide-spread attention paid to the importance of wearing helmets, helmet use did not change during the time period of the study, and more than 33 percent of 329 bicycle injury victims had a significant head injury. Even more alarming, the number of chest injuries increased by 15 percent and abdominal injuries rose three-fold over the last five years.

The study was conducted in Denver, which has one of the most well-developed bicycle path networks in the country. “Denver is very much a bicycle community. If we are seeing an increase in injuries in a metropolitan area that has fairly mature bike infrastructure from the standpoint of bike pathways, there’s reason for concern about what’s happening in metropolitan areas that don’t have that level of maturity. There seems to be a significant increase nationally in the use of the bicycle for urban transportation. If our data is a microcosm of what is going on nationally, we may be on the cusp of an injury epidemic,” Dr. Kashuk said.

The moral here seems to be that bicycle riders should always wear helmets and always be aware of their surroundings.

Should you or someone you know become involved in an Illinois bicycle accident, Illinois car accident or Illinois truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation of your case at 312-588-3384.

LED Traffic Lights Could Be Causing Hazards

The New York Times recently published an interesting article about the hazards caused by LED traffic lights that have been installed in Illinois and other States. The use of LED (light-emitting-diodes) traffic lights have picked up recently due to their environmental impact. LEDs last longer, are more visible and require less maintenance than their predecessor.  Despite the environmental impact of these lights, there are concerns that they are creating a hazard and causing more accidents, especially during winter weather.  Specifically, they do not emit nearly as much heat as conventional bulbs, allowing snow and ice to accumulate more easily in certain conditions.

In Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states, special efforts are being made to ensure that the signals do not pose an undue threat to drivers.

“Do I think the car accident would have happened if the light was not covered in snow?” said Detective Rob Sherwood of the Oswego, Illinois Police Department, referring to a car accident in April. “I’d be willing to bet that it would not have happened if the driver that went through the light had an unobstructed view of the signal. It was the first indication in this community that the LED lights were not melting the snow.”

“We certainly do see car crashes and car accidents attributed to the fact that people can’t see the heads,” said Joanna Bush, a traffic signal systems engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, referring to traffic signals’ colored lenses. “Due to the volume of snow we’ve been getting — good, wet heavy snow — it packs in.”

Transportation officials have been dispatching workers with brooms to clear the lenses, Ms. Bush said. They are also experimenting with a solution that is less labor-intensive and more permanent, outfitting some of the lenses with sloping snow shields to make it harder for snow to stick.

For most states, the benefits of LEDs are greater than the downside, officials said. LEDs contain no toxic elements and can last so long — for years — that disposal is not much of an issue.

It will be interested to see if there are advances in technology that will embrace the environmental benefits and also adapt to the hazardous issues that arise during winter weather. 

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


Transportation Secretary LaHood Lauches FocusDriven

NHTSA Secretary Ray LaHood announced the launching of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The group will be led by Jennifer Smith, who has been an outspoken advocate against distracted driving since her mother was killed by someone talking on his cell phone while driving in 2008.

FocusDriven is a direct outgrowth of the September 2009 national Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC called by Secretary LaHood. Since the two-day meeting that brought together affected families, law enforcement, researchers, public officials and others, family members of distracted driving victims have worked to establish an advocacy organization with support from the Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit organization that uses leadership, research, education and advocacy to prevent injuries and save lives. FocusDriven’s new website,, hosts information on distracted driving, help for victims and family members, and ways to get involved.

Exactly one year ago today, the National Safety Council became the first organization to call for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. NSC President and CEO Janet Froetscher spoke at the Department of Transportation’s national Distracted Driving Summit last fall and has committed NSC’s resources to helping establish FocusDriven.

I have previously written about the changes in traffic laws that have come about in the past year to curb distracted drivers. Texting, in Chicago has not been allowed the past few years, actually became illegal for the state of Illinois on January 1.  The federal government appears to be keeping pace with states and is clearly doing its’ part to decrease distracted driving.

Click here to read the entire press release.

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

Lawsuit Filed Against Lockport Police Officer For Fatal DUI Accident

A Lockport police officer, who allegedly made a deadly mistake by drinking and driving, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family of a Chicago man, who was killed Dec. 20 when an allegedly intoxicated off-duty Lockport police officer crashed into his car, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking more than $20 million.

Man Wong, 29, 2417 S. Wentworth Ave., died in the crash on the Stevenson Expressway near Central Avenue in which police officer Edward Stapinski was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving.

Stapinski, 34, of Lockport, was southbound on the Stevenson about 9:30 p.m., when he lost control of his car, struck the concrete median barrier and went over the median into the northbound lanes, where it struck a car driven by Wong, according to state police.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, are Stapinski, WestEnd Bar and Grill in Chicago, where Stapinski allegedly was drinking before the crash, and the Four Corners Tavern Group, which operates the bar.

The lawsuit claims that Stapinski was “severely impaired” after drinking alcohol at the tavern and that his blood-alcohol level was recorded at a hospital at about three times the legal limit.

Depending on Officer Stapinski’s insurance policy, this may be a case where an underinsurance or uninsured claim is made.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or Illinois truck accident or have been charged with DUI, aggravated drunk driving or another traffic violation, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Mayor Daley Extends Olive Branch To Chicago Drivers

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley recently announced to the press that he would consider offering parkers a chance to fight parking tickets once a year. The suggestion would only apply if the ticket is issued within five minutes after meter expires.

The mayor said his gesture is in line with a long-standing City Hall message to parking enforcement to not cite cars when the meter has just expired.

Daley’s proposal was an olive branch to residents still fuming over the parking meter lease deal and the consequential spike in parking meter rates.

“I understand that many people were angry over the way the parking meter plan was implemented last year,” Daley said, according to the Chicago Tribune.  “This grace period is another step by Chicago parking meters to improve the parking meter system and add convenience for motorists.”

There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a $50 or $100 parking ticket minutes after your meter has expired. I will believe this offer when I actually see it.

Click here to read the story.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a traffic violation or DUI or 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.