CTA And Union Having A War Of Words Following Train Accident

Following the Blue Line CTA crash at Chicago’s O’Hare airport last week, there has been a war words
between the Union chief and the CTA regarding the train operators condition at
the time of the train accident. Both sides are using the media to argue their
version of events. According to the Chicago Tribune, Union head,
Robert Kelly, said the operator had worked
69 hours in the seven days prior to the train crash. She was a fill-in employee,
known as an “extra board,” meaning she called in around 4:30 p.m.
each day to learn her shift, he said.

CTA spokesman Brian
Steele disputed Kelly’s claim about the operator’s hours, saying she had worked
55 hours in the seven days preceding the incident and was off for 18 hours
prior to her shift during which the incident occurred. In the previous week, the
operator’s longest shift was 9.2 hours, Steele said.

The CTA accused the
outspoken union leader of making “untruthful and irresponsible”
claims in an attempt to interfere with the investigation into the crash, which
injured at least 30 people and caused more than $6 million in damage to the
train and station.

“As has become his
common response in issues involving his union, Bob Kelly is again providing
false and misleading information in an effort to distort the truth and divert
attention away from his union,” the CTA said in a statement shortly after
Kelly spoke at a press conference.

Regardless of how many
hours the operator had worked in the days prior to train crash, it is
undisputed that she had dozed off, which would probably be considered negligent
behavior. The CTA is responsible for its’ employees negligent behavior
regardless if she is a member of a Union. Further, there is the issue of
whether the emergency brake was working at the time, which should have
prevented the train for derailing. As I wrote last week, the NTSB already
stated that the emergency brake did not activate at the time of the train
crash. I’m sure more will be learned as the investigation continues.

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a CTA train crash, Chicago bus accident or Chicago caraccident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a freelegal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Are New Regulations Coming For Illinois Ride Share Companies?

I wrote last week about ride share
companies like Uber and Lyft, and their decision to retain insurance policies
that would cover their drivers during periods they were driving and searching
for fares or in between fares. According to ABC 7 News, state
legislators and city officials are continuing their push for more regulations
that will insure that both the drivers for these companies and the vehicles are
to drive.  A lawsuit has been filed by cab companies in federal court to
put a halt to ride share companies because they do not believe they undergo the
same scrutiny as their companies and drivers go through. This may change with
proposed local and statewide legislation that is on the table. 

In Chicago, before a cab driver can
become licenses, he or she has to go through a thorough background check, which
includes: fingerprinting each new applicant
for background check with the CPD; applicants must submit a “court
purposes” certified copy of their Illinois motor Vehicle record that is
issued by the Secretary of State; applicants red-light/speed camera ticket
history and any debt with the City of Chicago; and they also have to pass a
drug test and a physical exam administered by a licensed IL physician.

Currently, drivers
for ride share companies like Uber and Lyft do not have to undergo any of these
background checks or testing by the city or state (though it was reported that
the companies themselves do their own background checks). A new city ordinance
called the Transportation Network Providers ordinance (TNP) would change this.
Under the proposed ordinance, TNP companies will be required to conduct
background checks to ensure that all drivers maintain no disqualifying criminal
and driving records, undergo training, and operate vehicles that meet annual
inspection requirements.

One area the ride
share companies appear to better protect consumers than cab companies in
through insurance. All of the ride share companies require their driver carry
their own basic insurance ($50,000/$100,000), plus an umbrella policy of
$1,000,000 that each company carries. Cab companies are only required to carry
a minimum of $350,000 in insurance.

I agree with the
above proposed legislation. Ride share drivers are performing the same task as
cab drivers and they should be required to undergo the same background checks
and safety training. The only way to insure this would be through the proposed
city and/or state legislation. Hopefully this will insure the safest possible
drivers for the consumer.

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

Questions Remain Following Blue Line Crash At O’Hare

Very early Monday morning, a Blue
Line train carrying passengers pulled into the station at O’Hare airport, but
instead of stopping, it derailed and crashed into a commuter escalator. As a
result of the train crash, thirty (30) passengers were injured. The Associated
 reported today the train was not speeding as it drove into the
station. National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review of
Monday’s derailment at O’Hare International Airport showed that the train was
traveling at 25 mph — the correct speed — as it entered the
station. Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic
emergency braking system was activated on the tracks, but that it failed it
stop the train as it headed for the platform. “It activated,”
Turpin said. “That’s all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time
or not, that’s an analysis that we have to figure out.”

Another issue that
has raised eyebrows is the possibility that the conductor of the train was
drowsy at the time of the train accident. Several news outlets have reported
that the conductor may have dozed off at the train crash, which would mean he
or she did not brake on time. That is why there is an emergency brake, but
according to the above reports, did not work properly.

If the injuries
sustained by any of the passengers were severe enough, then there will
definitely be lawsuits filed against the Chicago Transit Authority
(“CTA”). The basis of a Complaint at Law will be based on multiple
allegations. First, the driver negligently operated the train by not braking
on time. Second, the CTA was negligent for possibly allowing one of its’
employees to work too many hours or days in a row, thus leading her to doze
off. Third, the CTA did not have a properly working emergency brake, as it
clearly did not prevent the train from stopping or derailing. It could be
alleged that the emergency braking system was not properly installed. This
could in turn lead to lawsuits against the manufacturer or the subcontractor
who installed and/or maintained the emergency braking system. The answers to
these questions will not be known until the NTSB and other experts complete
their full reports on the accident. Regardless, there a liable parties out
there that could have prevented this train accident

If you or someone
you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago CTA crash or
Chicago bus accident, the call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant
for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Uber & Lyft Expand Insurance Coverage Following Pressure From Chicago and Illinois Legislatures

We have heard of new companies like
Uber and Lyft that have taken over the ride share community in Chicago. A
simple app on your phone will help you track down a driver to take you
somewhere in the city. Uber and Lyft are similar to taxis but can be a little
more expensive but users prefer the convenience and appreciate the fact that
the vehicles are usually nice and provide more room than your typical taxi
(think town car or luxury SUV).

While these companies have taken off
Chicago and state officials are cracking down on them to determine if there is
sufficient insurance coverage for passengers and other drivers. WBEZ (NPR)
radio reported last week the steps that the Illinois Senate and the city has
taken to ensure there is enough insurance coverage in case an Uber or Lyft
vehicle is involved in a car crash. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar require their
drivers to have personal auto insurance, and claim to offer excess liability
insurance of $1 million per incident, but have declined to share copies of that
policy with WBEZ and others. The problem, said witnesses at the hearing, is
that the excess policies are not triggered until a driver’s personal insurance
is exhausted — and personal insurance policies explicitly preclude coverage
for commercial use of a vehicle. Sandoval noted that Lyft and Uber
recently changed their policies to “drop down” to serve as primary insurance in
case a driver’s personal policy declines to cover damages from an accident. But
insurance industry representatives said they could not verify if that covers
the insurance gap without seeing copies of the policy. They also noted other
problems with the excess policies, namely the companies’ stipulation that the
coverage applies only when a driver has accepted a fare, until that ride has

Well, the pressure from subpoenas by
the city and the Senate Committee hearing last week has apparently forced these
companies to act quickly. Uber announced late last week that their insurance
will now cover their drivers when they are out and about searching for
fares. Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, held a conference call with reporters
to discuss an extension of its coverage to periods when drivers may be looking
for passengers. “What we’re announcing today is that for the period of
time between trips, when the app is open and the driver is essentially
available for requests, we are announcing that we are rolling out coverage for
Uber partners on uberX nationwide, and that coverage starts today,” said

City and state legislatures often
receive a lot of criticism for the work they do (or don’t do), but in this case
I think they deserve kudos for focusing hard on this issue. If they had not
issued subpoenas or called for answers then I don’t believe Uber would have
expanded their insurance coverage. This means that if a passenger is hurt in an
Uber or Lyft vehicle, there will be a lot more insurance coverage (one million vs.
$50,000/$100,000) and those other drivers or pedestrians who are injured while
the driver is searching for fares will also be covered. It’s not clear at this
point if Lyft has expanded their coverage like Uber has. I will be interested
to find out.***

***Edit. CBS News in San Francisco (where both companies are based) reported that Lyft is also expanding its’ insurance coverage during the period that where drivers are seeking fares.

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

Mayor Emanuel To ‘Attack’ Chicago’s Pothole Conundrum

Those of us who live in
Chicago (or any cold weather city) know that there are multiple problems that
come with snow, ice and sub zero temperatures. It’s not just driving through
treacherous roads or walking down icy sidewalks. It’s also the resulting
pothole epidemic that invades the streets of Chicago. Anyone that has driven
through the city the past few months knows that our streets are filled with
potholes – – everywhere. This can be dangerous. It can cause major damage to
vehicles and more importantly lead to a car crash or truck accident. The city’s
residents have responded: Chicago’s 311
call center had received 47,227 complaints about potholes, more than triple the
15,641 calls the city received for the same period in 2011-12 and far more than
the 17,468 complaints it got during the same time frame last winter.

The Chicago
reported this week about what Mayor Emanuel is doing to combat
this issue. The mayor’s office has sent out 10
pothole-related announcements since Jan. 10 to highlight everything from more
street crews working extended hours to fill potholes to a Web page featuring a
map showing where streets have been patched. Emanuel said at a recent press
conference that the city would deploy “strike teams” to strategically fan
out and fill potholes on the major thoroughfares. The city isn’t adding more
crews, but it will have them focus on the busiest roads on Mondays and Fridays
instead of just responding to keep up with complaints on the 311 line.
According to the city, of the 47,227 pothole complaints the city has received
since Dec. 1, more than 28,878 are listed as resolved while an additional
18,349 have not been addressed, according to city figures.

What is
the mayor to do? Is it realistic to think there is more money to pour into this
situation? Or should this unusually cold and snowy winter be considered an
aberration. Regardless, driving through Chicago this winter is like driving
through a war zone, which includes a lot of dodging and weaving. This is not
safe for anyone. Hopefully the city can move quicker to help resolve this

If you
or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago truck accident or Chicago caraccident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at
312-588-3384 for a free legal consultation

Will Smart Highways Help Prevent Auto Accidents In Illinois?

The Chicago
 reported last month about an interesting investment being made
by the state of Illinois. Government officials are hoping a $45 million dollar
investment into highway technology will help decrease traffic congestion and
hopefully car accidents

engineers are focusing initially on the Edens Expressway and the northern
stretch of U.S. Highway 41 and will begin incorporating a mix of existing and
new technology during the next two years, an undertaking that could spread to
the entire Chicago-area expressway system.

“We are trying to
fix a lot of problems with very cost-efficient solutions that can be introduced
relatively soon,” IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said.

Those technologies include
travel-time estimates using motorists’ Bluetooth devices, bus-on-shoulder
service during rush hour, and traffic cameras along every interchange.

A major part of the
project will be a series of radar devices designed to detect wrong-way drivers
and warn other motorists about them. The problem causes more than 300
fatalities a year nationwide, according to the National Transportation Safety

The system, similar to
one already being tested in Peoria, will alert the wrong-way driver by
triggering flashing red lights, telling the driver not to enter the highway,
according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. It will also broadcast
warnings on electronic signs to warn oncoming drivers to stay in the far-right
lane to help prevent collisions, IDOT officials said.

Wrong-way drivers, the
vast majority of whom are intoxicated or older drivers, tend to steer to the
far right, which in the wrong direction of travel is the left lane for
right-way drivers, officials said.

In addition to alerting
drivers, the system could feed information to IDOT and the Illinois State
Police, said Steve Travia, IDOT’s bureau chief of Chicago-area traffic

The various projects are
in the preliminary engineering stage and construction will be done in phases, likely
starting in two years, Travia said. Schneider said she is hoping to accelerate
the schedule. Projects would be extended over time to other expressways in the

I love investments like
these made by our government.  I will be interested to see what the results of these studies are and
whether more money will be invested. I would also like to see investments in studies that would provide information on how to deal with traffic congestion throughout Chicago. As we know traffic jams often arise due to car crashes and vice versa. 

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then
call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legalconsultation at 312-588-3384. 

IIHS Study Shows Red Light Cameras Are Working

 I have written on this blog multiple times about red light cameras and whether they actually make intersections safer for drivers and pedestrians. There have been studies and critics have stated in the past that the cameras are money grab for local governments and that they don’t actually decrease the number of car accidents.

 Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) recently completed a study in Arlington Virginia, which concluded that these cameras are actually decreasing the number of red light infractions. The study found found that red light running rates declined at Arlington, Va., intersections equipped with cameras. The decreases were particularly large for the most dangerous violations, those happening 1½ seconds or longer after the light turned red. “This study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior,” says Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS and the study’s lead author.

 To calculate how the cameras affected violation rates, researchers at the Institute, which is located in Arlington, videotaped traffic during the warning period, a month after ticketing began and again after a year. In addition to the four camera-enforced intersections, videotaping was done at four other intersections in Arlington — two on the same corridors where cameras were located and two elsewhere — to see if there was any spillover effect from the cameras. Four control intersections in neighboring Fairfax County, which does not have a camera program, also were observed.

One year after the start of ticketing, the odds of a red light running violation at the camera locations went down. Violations occurring at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red were 39 percent less likely than would have been expected without cameras. Violations occurring at least 1 second after were 48 percent less likely, and the odds of a violation occurring at least 1.5 seconds into the red phase fell 86 percent.

Although this is a small sample size in one town in a few specific intersections, the findings are encouraging. I am still skeptical that red light cameras actually make intersections safer. I would like to see a few more studies outside of Arlington and maybe by an organization other than the IIHS before we can determine that red light cameras are a deterrent and do reduce auto accidents.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at 312-588-3384 for a free legal consultation.

2014 Chicago Auto Show Premiers New Safety Features

The auto show that
travels around the country every, including at Chicago’s McCormick Place,
always has a flavor of new vehicle safety features. As Medill Reports noted
in a recent article, 2014 was no different. 
The 2014 Hyundai Genesis featured a new
automatic emergency braking system. The front camera and the front radar
combine to alert you to a possible crash and will signal the breaks to go off
for you. 

ultimately all about safety features this year,” said Jim Vurpillat, director
of Emerging Markets at Cadillac. “If you can have all that radar around you to
protect you, it avoids accidents. All of these technologies have been rolling
out to enhance your driving capabilities.” At the Chicago Auto Show
Cadillac showed off the newest radar and camera safety features added to all of
its 2014 and 2015 models, such as advanced breaking, and front and rear
obstacle protection.  One of Cadillac’s most highly-touted features is a
seat buzzer that alerts the driver if the car begins to drift out of a lane.

The technology is similar to Buick’s, which also
alerts a driver via seat vibration. The alert is activated along with the turn
signal. If a vehicle is coming from the right, the right side of the driver’s
seat will buzz or from the left if a vehicle approaches from the left side. The
entire seat will vibrate if there are two vehicles approaching on both sides.

always amazes me the type of new technology car makers are able to implement
every year. It will be interesting to see in the years to come, when these
safety systems become more prevalent, whether the number of car accidents
actually decreases.

you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at
312-588-3384 for a free legal consultation