Cook County Watchdog Group Finds Hidden Flaws In Trucks

The Chicago Sun Times reported this week that a Cook County watchdog group, led by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard, found that the County was has been hiding multiple flaws in trucks so that they will pass inspection. Many of the practices used by the County highway department include: installing new tires on snow truck during inspections and then having them removed; not supplying each truck with a fire extinguisher; and vehicles used for repairing potholes not having an up-to-date vehicle inspection sticker.


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to the Sun Times that the person overseeing these issues was not living up to his duties and is no longer in the position.  Rupert Graham, the highway superintendent appointed to the job under former board president Todd Stroger, stepped down in August of this year.

It is not clear whether any of the hidden faults in the County’s fleet of trucks caused any vehicle accidents. At least it was not mentioned in the report or in the Sun Times article. It is also not clear as to what steps the County will be taking to make sure all of their vehicles up to code and in safe working condition. My opinion is that Board President Preckwinkle has been accountable on a lot of issues since taking office and that she will start taking the appropriate steps to make sure vehicles are better equipped and pass inspection.

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NTSB Recommends Total Ban On Cell Phones In Vehicles

I wrote last week about the drastic increase of drivers who texted behind the wheel.The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) administration found these text and drive results among U.S. drivers through various studies.


These findings appeared to have sent a serious jolt throughout the federal government, as the board dedicated to keeping highways and roads safe – – the National Highway Safety Board – – has recommended a complete ban on cell phone use while driving. The only exception would be in case of emergencies.  The government (in my opinion rightfully) believes that texting and driving is an epidemic similar to drinking and driving.  According to the NHTSA there were 3,092 roadway fatalities last year involved distracted drivers. Though they believe the number may actually be higher. Federal officials have taken to calling phone use behind the wheel “the new DUI.”

This type of restriction is going to face serious opposition I believe from both Republicans and Democrats. There will also be strong opposition from each state as they will argue that it is an issue they can legislate themselves.  Personally, I think it will be difficult to justify a complete ban on cell phone use for drivers as so many people rely on their phone for business purposes. Yet it appears that the government studies are correct in asserting that texting and driving is an epidemic similar to drinking and driving. As I mentioned last week, until people recognize the potential consequences of texting and driving (similar to not wearing a seat belt or driving while drunk), then people will continue to type on their phones while driving. How do we change this mentality?  For now it will take time, but just like drinking and driving laws, the local, state and federal governments need to enact stiffer penalties. 

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Texting & Driving Increases By 50% In 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released some startling news last week about texting and driving. According to several different studies performed by the NHTSA, drivers who have texted on their phones while behind the wheel increased by 50% over the past year.

The NHTSA takes an annual snapshot of drivers’ behavior by staking out selected stoplights and intersections to count people using cell phones and hand-held Web devices that allow them to text, view directions, check emails, surf the Internet, or play games. At any given time, just under 1 percent of drivers were texting or manipulating hand-held devices.  The activity increased to 0.9 percent of drivers in 2010, up from 0.6 percent the year before.

In a separate telephone survey of drivers, 18 percent said they’ve sent texts or emails while at the wheel. That number jumps to half among younger drivers, ages 21 to 24.The survey also found that most drivers will answer a cell phone call while driving and most will continue to drive while they talk. NHTSA surveyed 6,000 drivers ages 18 or older in the national poll conducted a year ago and released Thursday.

“What’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.

This is somewhat disheartening news considering the amount of effort state and federal legislators have done to enact bans on texting in driving the past few years. It is illegal to text and drive in the city of Chicago along with a statewide ban in Illinois.  I have said this before but, it seems to be more apparent than ever, that people in the U.S. are reacting in a snail like pace to adapt to the new texting and driving laws. This is similar to the way this country reacted to seatbelt laws in the 1960s.  I guess people do not realize just how dangerous it is to text and drive.  Maybe local and state legislators need to consider stiffer penalties, especially if a the texting causes a car accident involving personal injury or property damage.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious car accident or truck accident in Illinois, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.