Metra To Install High-Tech Safety System

Metra announced last month that they are going to spend $100 million to install a Positive Train Control (PTC) to its’ systems. PTC is a complex system of computers, including a gps vehicle tracker, radios and other communications equipment intended to take over when a train is approaching another train.

In an emergency, the system also could override an engineer who may be distracted or otherwise miss or ignore a warning signal to slow down, such as when a train crosses a switch or a track crossover, or when it exceeds the speed limit.

Basically this is a computer system that aims to eliminate human error. Is this too little too late? Critics say that rail lines should have installed such systems long ago. The National Transportation Safety Board called for positive train control as far back as 1990.

The NTSB cited the lack of such a system in the deadly crash on Metra’s Rock Island line in 2005, the second such derailment on the same line. In December 2006, the safety agency issued an urgent recommendation to Metra to install an automatic system to warn engineers.

Regardless, this is a positive step towards making Metra trains safer.

If you or someone you know has been involved in Chicago car aacidentChicago truck accident  or Illinois Metra accident , then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at<br<< a=””> />

Track Crews To Blame For Illinois Train Accident

A terrible tragedy took place last week in University Park, Illinois, where an Amtrak train struck an SUV, leading to the death of a 26 year old Naperville dance instructor.

Investigators have now said that track crews inadvertently turned off the gates and warning lights, which led to the collision. A video camera aboard the four-car Amtrak train night corroborated the preliminary findings, officials said. 

Canadian National crews had been working on a signal system related to switching trains from one track to another within a mile of the University Park crossing, investigators said. The work on the signal system was unrelated to the crossing signals, but it delayed the raising of gates and the shutdown of other safety devices at the crossing after a train had passed, said an official close to the investigation.

As a result, the barriers, lights and bells activated properly before the approach of a train, but the warning devices continued to operate for an extended period after trains cleared, blocking traffic, several railroad sources said.

Canadian National crews tried to fix the problem and thought they had remedied it, officials said. But they actually deactivated the warning system, creating an unprotected crossing that provided motorists no indication of oncoming trains, officials said.

“This was human error. Track circuits and crossing circuits overlap. They got their wires crossed,” an investigator said.

This is a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided and will more than likely lead to a wrongful death  lawsuit. To read the entire article in the Chicago Tribune, click here.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accidentChicago truck accident  or Illinois train accident , then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or email or go to the firm website at 

New Guidelines For Drivers With Alzheimers

Rightly or wrongly, we have all gotten upset or pointed the finger at ederly drivers. It is an issue that has received a lot discussion.  The American Academy of Neurologists (AAN) recently addressed this issue and they released new guidelines for drivers with Alzheimers and dementia.   

The guideline recommends doctors use the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale to identify people with dementia at an increased risk of unsafe driving. The CDR provides a tool for clinicians to integrate information from caregivers and from direct examination of the patient to develop a comprehensive view of the dementia severity.

Evidence shows driving skills deteriorate with increasing dementia severity. “While patients with mild dementia, as a group, are higher-risk drivers, more recent studies report that as many as 76 percent are still able to pass an on-road driving test and can safely drive,” said Iverson. “Faced with these facts, we needed to provide guidelines for doctors caring for these patients to identify those people at higher risk of unsafe driving, without unnecessarily restricting those who are safe drivers.”

Caregivers and family members play a role in identifying warning signs from unsafe drivers with dementia. These include: • Decreased miles being driven • Auto Collisions  • Moving violations  • Avoiding certain driving situations, such as driving at night or in the rain • Aggressive or impulsive personality traits

“It is important that the decision to stop driving be directed by a doctor who is trained and experienced in working with people with dementia and their families,” Iverson said. “Doctors should be aware that assessing driving ability is a complex process. More than one source of information is needed to make a judgment. In some situations, a dementia specialist may be needed.”

Doctors, patients and caregivers must also know their state laws, since some states require that doctors report any medical conditions that may impact their ability to drive safely.

The guideline is an update of the 2000 American Academy of Neurology guideline on driving with dementia.

I will be watching the Illinois legislature closely to see if they adopt these new guidelines. Click here  to read the AAN’s complete press release.

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.

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.

Red Light Camera Tickets Being Dismissed For Chicago Employees

I have written about the controversy of red light cameras in the past. There have been mixed reviews on their effectiveness. I have received one of these tickets and I have had numerous clients call me about taking care of these traffic violations. Unfortunately there is not a lot anyone or an attorney can do as they are a non-moving violation.  Although, one can request an administrative hearing to challenge the ticket. This is an uphill battle as they are facing videotaped and photographed evidence of the violation.

Now more controversy surrounds the red light cameras in Chicago. The Chicago Sun Times reports that a large portion of red light camera tickets issued to city employees have been dismissed.

Since January 2007, 2,685 red-light-camera tickets have been issued to vehicles registered to city departments. At $100 a pop, that should have generated $268,500. Instead, only $77,167 has been collected.

1,830 of those tickets were dismissed for reasons that include the municipal code exemption for emergency vehicles. Not all of those vehicles were responding to emergencies with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Some police vehicles were working undercover. Some were vehicles assigned to city departments not typically considered emergency departments.

I would like to see a better breakdown as to why some of these tickets are being dismissed. Click here to read the entire Sun Times article.

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

Traffic Fatalities Caused By Elders Trending Down

We have all been guilty (sometimes fairly so) of getting upset with elder drivers while on the road. It is often asked whether stricter restrictions should be placed on drivers over a certain age. Regardless, statistics show that auto accidents and specifically, traffic fatalities, have decreased the last several years among elder drivers. This issue was looked at closely by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as they issued a study on what is causing this trend.

According to the study, fewer older drivers died in car crashes and fewer were involved in traffic fatalities during 1997-2006 than in years past. Car crash deaths among drivers 70 and older fell 21 percent during the period, reversing an upward trend, even as the population of people 70 and older rose 10 percent.

The study believes that the decrease in auto accidents is due to elderly self-limiting the amount they drive.  Researchers from the study followed drivers 65 and older in 3 states as they renewed their licenses between November 2006 and December 2007. In the first of several planned interviews, more than 9 in 10 of these drivers said that driving themselves is their primary way to travel. Fewer than 1 percent said they’d been advised by family, friends, or a doctor to give up driving.

This may be a smart approach by many drivers as they age and they face different impairments such as vision, mobility and memory. It will be important to follow these statistics in the next few years as the number of baby boomers become 65 and older.

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

NHSTA Issues $16 Million Against Toyota

Toyota, who has been receiving criticism from both the public and federal government for several months, received another thorn in its’ side. National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA) Secretary, Ray LaHood, announced yesterday that they were issuing a $16 million fine against Toyota for its’ sudden acceleration and sticky pedal problems. This comes on top of hundreds of wrongful deathpersonal injury and class action lawsuits filed throughout the country.

“Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” said Transportation Secretary LaHood.

“Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials, and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.”

This is not good news for Toyota, which seems to be facing scrutiny on a daily basis. The good news is that Toyota will hopefully take the steps to correct the acceleration and sticky pedal problems in their vehicles.

Read the entire article from the New York Daily News here.
If you or someone you now has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

NHSTA Announces Studies Focused On Unintended Acceleration

The federal government continues to dig deeper into allegations of Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems.  On March 30, NHSTA chairman Ray LaHood announced two (2) new studies that are being undertaken to investigate this problem. The National Academy of Sciences, will examine the broad subject of unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls across the entire automotive industry. Second, NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity to help tackle the issue of unintended vehicle acceleration in Toyotas.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of unintended acceleration,” said Secretary LaHood. “For the safety of the American driving public, we must do everything possible to understand what is happening. And that is why we are tapping the best minds around.”

Secretary LaHood has also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General (IG) to review whether NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) has the necessary resources and systems to identify and address safety defects as it moves forward.

Both studies – from the National Academy of Sciences and from NHTSA – will be peer reviewed by scientific experts. The total cost of the two studies is expected to come to approximately $3 million, including the cost of purchasing cars that have allegedly experienced unintended acceleration to be studied.

I will be interested in hearing the results of these studies and how they will affect future wrongful death and class action litigation. And more important, how the results can be used to make vehicles safer.

Click here to read the entire press release.

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

Toyota Acceleration Problem Blamed For Over 100 Deaths

According to the National Highway Safety & Transportation Administration (NHTSA), court records and The Los Angeles Times, 102 traffic fatalities are being attributed to Toyotas’ acceleration problem.

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles based on – – what it terms – – as a “rare” chance that the gas pedal could stick.  Toyota continues to deny that an electrical problem is causing sudden acceleration.  “We are diligently going to investigate all of these claims. We are doing it with more people and we are doing it as quickly as we can.  “We have found no evidence at all of any electronic problem that could have led to unintended acceleration,” said Toyota spokesman John Hanson.

 Department of Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair said NHTSA officials review all complaints and “take reports of injuries and deaths extremely seriously.”

“Right now, the agency is working to get to the bottom of the unintended acceleration issue by undertaking a new review of possible causes, including potential electromagnetic interference,” Alair said.

The complaints on file are simply allegations that defects may have caused the cars to suddenly accelerate before fatal crashes. Public concern about sudden acceleration was triggered by an incident last year that killed veteran California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three of his relatives near San Diego.

The family was in a 2009 Lexus ES 350 that had been lent to them by a dealership when the car accelerated out of control and crashed. Saylor’s frantic efforts to stop the car were captured in a 911 emergency call made by his brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, a passenger in the car. The Lexus ES 350 was one of several models later recalled by Toyota to replace floor mats that could cause the gas pedals to stick.

Click here to read the entire story from the LA Times.
It will be interesting to see where these injury cases lead and what the plaintiff experts will say during litigation.

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.