The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT), the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies together organized wet lab demonstrations in Chicago and 5 other cities across Illinois. The events occurred as the 2011 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Labor Day campaign enters its second week of stepped-up impaired driving enforcement. The wet lab tests were performed to show alchohol’s effect on drivers.
A wet lab occurs in a controlled environment in which a person consumes alcohol to a level of 0.08 BAC (the limit in Illinois). This allows observation of the real-life effects of impairment and the significant effects of alcohol on a person’s motor skills. Volunteer participants in today’s events attempted Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) administered by police officers to show what happens in an actual Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest. In addition, the drinking subjects showed how a vehicle equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) will not start when an impaired person attempts to drive.
The SFSTs are a sequence of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain indicators of impairment as it relates to a DUI charge. The tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses of the suspect.
“Illinois State Police want motorists to arrive at their final destinations safely during the holiday weekend and will be targeting designated areas looking for speeders, seatbelt violators, distracted drivers, and DUI offenders ,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “These are the Fatal 4 violations ISP will be enforcing during the holiday weekend. Violating any of these laws can result in fines and possible jail time and will be treated as criminal acts by the police and court system,” he added.
It will be interesting to see the final arrest numbers around the state and also the number of alcohol related car accidents during this crackdown. If there are an abnormally high number of arrests, will this be because of the increased number of police on patrol? Or will the numbers of arrests and/or car accidents be higher due to the holiday weekend? I think it is critical to look at the numbers a little deeper rather than take them at face value when determing the programs effectiveness. Regardless, this will be positive if there are a lower number of auto accidents than the typical labor day weekend.
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I wrote recently about Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel’s plan to strengthen the local crosswalks laws. This ordinance could not come at a better time as a study reported on by the Chicago Tribune reveals the dangers for Chicago pedestrian walkers.
The study revealed that 80 percent of vehicle-pedestrian crashes in Chicago occur at intersections and commonly involve people crossing the street with the walk signal. The study showed that the 17,487 crashes between 2005 and 2009 involved 18,377 pedestrians. The experts who prepared the study believe these numbers reveal a traffic safety crisis despite a downward trend in the rate of pedestrians killed. Pedestrian fatalities in Chicago hit a 16-year low in 2009 with 34 deaths, down from 88 deaths in 1994, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The Loop, Near North Side and Austin neighborhoods appear to have the highest number of auto and pedestrian accidents during this time period.
The study found that 78 percent of all crashes and 80 percent of fatal and serious vehicle crashes occurred within 125 feet of the midpoint of an intersection — at crosswalks or nearby.A 2010 state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. The previous law required drivers to yield and stop when necessary.It’s too early to assess the impact of the law, officials said. But IDOT provisional numbers for 2010 show 2,943 vehicle-pedestrian crashes in Chicago last year, 32 pedestrian fatalities and 409 serious injuries. Those accidents were not factored into the new study.
The Chicago Department of Transportation report that an average of two hit-and-run pedestrian crashes resulting in deaths or injuries take place each day in Chicago. Hit-and-runs account for 33 percent of vehicle-pedestrian collisions and 41 percent of those that are fatal, double the national average, officials said. That’ comes to a total of 5,534 hit-and-runs over the five-year stretch, causing 3,683 deaths and injuries.
These are some startling numbers that the city has published. It will be interesting to see what Emanuel’s proposed ordinance will actually say, and whether the 2010 state crosswalk law will actually make life safer for pedestrians.
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At this point most people have heard about the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair over the weekend that left 5 people dead and 25 others injured. Apparently a wind gust estimated at 60 to 70 mph toppled the roof and the metal scaffolding holding lights and other equipment, which led to the stage collapsing onto a crowd of concert-goers awaiting a show by the country group Sugarland.
CBS News reported about several safety questions that have loomed following the accident. State fair officials have not said whether the stage and rigging were inspected prior to Saturday’s show. Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said initially that the state fire marshal’s office was responsible for inspections, but he backtracked Monday, saying he wasn’t sure whose job it is.
A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said neither the fire marshal nor Homeland Security officials conduct inspections. And the city does not have the authority to inspect items on state property.
“We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”
I think the first question that needs to be asked is who (which entity) was responsible for inspecting the stage and scaffolding, and why was the inspection not performed. The next questions that need to be answered are exactly how and why the fatal accident occurred. Was there a design flaw? Was there structural damage? Was the equipment too old? Once these questions are answered, then it will be easier to determine who was responsible and the process can begin to determine who will compensate the families who lost loved ones and for the 25 others who were injured.
The first place to look for these answers will come when the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepares their initial report. Those reports can sometimes take a few weeks, but often times will take months.
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The Chicago Sun Times reported this weekend that a tour bus carrying the star of the Nickelodeon tv show, ICarly, was involved in a serious auto accident. The actor, Miranda Cosgrove apparently suffered a broken ankle from the vehicle collision. A spokesman for the show said the bus accident happened early Thursday on Interstate 70 outside Vandalia, about 70 miles outside St. Louis. There were five people on the bus transporting the 18-year-old TV star and “Kissin U” singer from her Wednesday-night show in Ohio to her scheduled Friday night stop in Kansas, her publicist said in a statement Thursday. The good news: Her rep said that there were no serious injuries to the people on the bus and “everyone will be fine.” The bad news: Cosgrove’s “Dancing Crazy” summer tour, which was scheduled to conclude at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix on Oct. 23, has been postponed until further notice.
The passengers are probably thankful that there were not more serious injuries. Any type of car accident can be terrifying, but I imagine it is worse when on board a charter bus, where it would be difficult to see exactly what was happening or how the accident occurred.
I have not seen any reports discussing how the bus accident occurred or who was at fault.
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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a new law that will increase the speed limit for trucks from 55 mph to 65 mph on four (4) lane highways throughout most of the state. There is an important caveat for the bill, which keeps the speed limit at 55 mph in all the counties in the surrounding Chicagoland area. These counties include Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry. Other legislation dealing with truck weight and size standards also was signed Wednesday in Quincy by Quinn. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.
I am not sure wether this is necessary legislation. I think it will be important to track the rates of highway trucking accidents at the new speed compared to previous years. I assume the legislation was passed to help clear traffic congestion on highways, and presumably, to make highways safer. I cannot say one way or the other right now if this increases safety. I will be looking for articles from highway safety experts to weigh in on this issue.
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The Chicago Tribune reported recently about an Allstate study that revealed many interesting findings about supposed “good” drivers. The surveys revealed that 89 percent said they’ve driven faster than the speed limit, 45 percent said they’ve driven when they’re so tired they could fall asleep and 34 percent conceded they had sent an e-mail or text message while driving, according to the survey of 1,000 adults polled by Financial Dynamics for Allstate insurance company. 70 percent of those who responded said they had to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid a car accident after they became distracted.
These are somewhat startling statistics. I guess one could compare this to the early implementation of the seat belt. I have read that when the seat belt was added to vehicles in the early 1960s, only about 10 percent of drivers actually buckled up. It took several decades before drivers became smarter about the dangers of not wearing your seat belt. Study’s show that approximately 80 percent of drivers wear their seat belts today. The evolution in seat belt use most likely came from stricter state laws and city ordinances along with a fervent public safety movement. Hopefully the same evolution takes place with the use of cell phones while driving. Evidence is overwhelming that it is extremely dangerous to text or talk on the phone while driving. It will be interesting to see if these statistics change in the next 5 to 10 years.
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