Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Release 2021 Report

Traffic safety advocacy group, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, released their 2021 report called the “Road Map.” The report analyzes traffic safety and traffic safety laws in all 50 states.

There were less people on the road in 2020 but according to the report, that did not lead to safer streets and highways. “Moreover, preliminary 2020 estimates show that while overall miles traveled are down, the fatality rate has jumped dramatically,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The group gave Illinois a grade of yellow, which means safety improvements are needed. Below is a list of recommendations the group provided to the state:

  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • Booster Seat Law
  • GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction Provision
  • GDL- Stronger Passenger Restriction Provision
  • GDL- Age 18 for Unrestricted License

Below is a list of laws the group believes Illinois is doing correctly:

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • GDL – 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
  • GDL – Cell Phone Restriction
  • IID for All Offenders
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law

One suggestion they did not provide was for stricter texting and driving laws and penalties. As I discussed on this site last week, the Illinois legislature has done their part of strengthening traffic penalties for caught texting and driving during an accident. I will be watching the state legislature closely over the next year to see if they implement any of the suggestions made by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Illinois Traffic Laws For 2020 and 2021

The Illinois legislature passed and the governor signed into law two (2) important new traffic laws in 2020 that went into effect in 2020. I will also discuss a local Chicago ordinance that went into effect in the new year.

First, as I have been writing about on this blog for years, the Illinois legislature finally stiffened the texting and driving penalties when the accident causes serious injury to another party. Beginning on July 1, 2020 the Illinois secretary of state was enabled to revoke driving privileges for one year when a driver causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement” due to use of an electronic communication device. The offense is also subject to a minimum $1,000 fine. Electronic communication devices include hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or portable or mobile computer. It does not include a GPS or a device that is electronically integrated into the vehicle. 

Second, stronger penalties were enacted for drivers who injured a pedestrian while walking in a cross-walk. This new law establishes a 12-month license suspension for a motorist who, while violating the right-of-way at crosswalks and in school zones, causes serious injury to another person. This law also went into effect on July 1, 2020.

Finally, as I discussed a few months back, part of the city of Chicago’s 2021 budget included increased fines for drivers caught on speeder cameras driving 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The plan states those driving six miles per hour over posted speed limits would get a warning. If a driver is caught twice, they would then receive a $35 ticket in the mail.   This new ordinance took effect in 2021.

If you or a loved one have been has been seriously injured in a Chicago truck crash or Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Police Agency Ticket Quota Program

In POLICEMEN’S BENEVOLENT LABOR COMMITTEE, Appellee, v. THE CITY OF SPARTA, 2020 IL 125508, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the town of Sparta’s traffic ticket program for its’ police officers. The Sparta police department’s union sued over the city’s activity-points policy used for evaluating the performance of its police officers. The policy required all full-time officers to meet a monthly point minimum, based on actions that include issuing citations, making traffic stop warnings and taking on extra duty assignments.

The case was originally heard by the 5th district appellate court, which struck down the policy. The case was then appealed to the state supreme court, which upheld the 5th district’s opinion that the quota policy violated Illinois law. The law, undert the Illinois Municipal Code, that the police union argued was being violated states: ““A municipality may not require a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time … A municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a police officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations issued by the police officer to the number of citations issued by any other police officer who has similar job duties.”

In the lawsuit, the city of Sparta argued that the policy did not violate the law because it does not mandate officers to write a specific number of citations during a certain period of time, and that officers could meet the monthly minimum without writing any citations.

The supreme cout disagreed stating in the opinion: ““The (Illinois Municipal Code), as it is currently written, expressly prohibits that practice, and the (code) must be enforced as written.” 

We will see if the city of Sparta and/or other police departments go back to the state legislature to lobby for a change in municipal code.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Annual Highway Report Ranks Illinois Roads 37th

According to the 2020 “Annual Highway Report” prepared by the Reason Foundation, Illinois’ roads ranked as the 37th worst in the country. The study factors pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending per mile. Illinois ranks 32nd in structurally deficient bridges, 32nd in urban interstate pavement condition, and 42nd in capital and bridge costs per mile. Its worst category performance was traffic congestion, ranking 49th.

The only category that doesn’t surprise me is that Illinois ranks 49th in traffic congestion. That is easy to see for someone who lives in the Chicago area as we see traffic jams on our highways in and around the city everyday and just about all hours. Let’s hope that the completion of the 290/94 interchange construction will relieve some of that congestion.

Fortunately Illinois ranks fairly high regarding traffic safety. The state ranks 15th in overall fatality rate, 16th in rural fatality rate, and 22nd in urban fatality rate.

Let’s hope that the safety continues to improve and that the state can improve when it comes to categories like congestion and pavement conditions.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NHTSA Orders GM To Recall 5.9 Million Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced this week that General Motors is to recall up to 5.9 vehicles due to a defect in the Takata airbags in many of their lines of vehicles.

The NHTSA states that GM must recall their 2007-2014 model year trucks and SUVs because the inflators in the airbags “are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators.”

The defect, which leads in rare instances to air bag inflators rupturing and sending potentially deadly metal fragments flying, prompted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history of about 63 million inflators. Worldwide, about 100 million inflators by 19 major automakers were recalled. The vehicles in the recall includes some Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon vehicles built over an eight-year period.

GM has denied that the airbags are defective and that the do not pose a risk drivers. Regardless, they have stated they will comply and make the necessary changes.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago auto defect accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

DuPage County Closes Traffic Courts Through End Of Year

Covid-19 cases are rising at a dramatic pace in Illinois. We have seen a steep rise in the number of cases and in the positivity rate throughout the state. The DuPage County Chief Judge Daniel Guerin announced that they are taking steps to stop the spread of the virus by shutting down its’ traffic courts through December 31, 2020. The Chief Judge released the following regarding the shutdown: “In order to protect the health and safety of court employees and the general public, we decided that continuing traffic matters through the end of this year was the responsible and prudent step to take in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The Downers Grove satellite court room and the two court rooms at the main courthouse in Wheaton. Cases will be rescheduled to dates at least 28 business days from their current dates. The court clerk will send notices via mail.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Ex-MLB Player Sues His Old Team For Career Ending Injury

Former San Francisco Giant’s baseball player, Mac Williamson, has sued his old team for a catastrophic head injury he suffered in 2018. On April 24, 2018, Williamson tripped over the bullpen mound placed in the outfield at San Francisco’s AT&T Park causing him to hit his head against the wall in left field foul territory. Williamson filed suit against China Basin Ballpark Company (“CBBC”) the subsidiary that owns and operates AT&T Park.

According to the lawsuit, Williamson suffered a severe concussion, which allegedly ended his career playing major league baseball. The lawsuit claims the following:

“It has long been known that bullpen mounds on the field of play create an unreasonable risk of harm… Prior to building the Park, CBBC knew, or at a minimum should have known, that placing bullpens on the field of play was a safety hazard for players.”

Typically when filing a premises liability lawsuit and eventually proving the claim in court, the Plaintiff must show that there was a defect on the premises and that the owner knew about the defect and chose not correct it or failed to provide any warnings. In this case notice is not the issue as the Giants placed the bullpen mounds in the outfield foul territory when the stadium opened in 2000 and kept them there until 2019. The question is whether having the mounds out there would be considered a defect. Although not very common anymore, there have always been bullpen mounds in foul territory at major league baseball stadiums. The players obviously know about them, but the question is whether they could still be considered a defect. This is most commonly a question of fact for the jury to decide. So, at the very least, Williamson should be able to avoid any motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions by the defense as long as they have an expert opinion concluding that leaving the mounds on the field are a defect on the premises.

Regardless, the defense will definitely file what are called affirmative defenses, which can reduce their amount of fault. Those affirmative defenses could include comparative fault (Williamson was at fault for tripping over the mound) or also the “plain view” defense as the mounds were in the Plaintiff’s view prior to tripping and he should have avoided it. I think the affirmative defenses will be hard for the defense to prove in this case because because the Williamson’s attorney’s will argue that he was doing everything in his power to help his team win by attempting to catch the baseball and record and out, and while doing so, it was impossible to avoid the mound that he tripped over.

This is a unique case that I haven’t seen before. The damages here could be significant if they can prove that Williamson lost out on multiple years of salary as a major league baseball player. This could total into the millions of dollars. Williamson will also be asking for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. This is also significant as he is not longer able to partake in his life’s passion – – playing baseball. Plus, his comments indicate that his day to day struggle with his brain injury has been significant.

One final issue to remember is that depending on California workers’ compensation law, Williamson could be owed money from the team for his work injury. Workers’ compensation does not require proof of wrongdoing by the employer. The employee merely has to prove that his accident happened on the job and was caused by his employment. Though the damages awarded are not as high as they would be in civil court, he could be owed payment of his medical bills, lost time from work and a lump sum permanency award for his head injury. There is also the possibility that he could be awarded a wage differential at trial (or via settlement), which is typically 2/3 of the difference of what he was earning in major league baseball less what he can earn in the open market. Again, this could be significant since most jobs do not pay anywhere near what professional baseball players earn. Williamson may have already filed a work comp claim, although it is unclear in any of the media I have read about this case.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Chicago slip and fall case or suffered an Illinois work injury or have an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois State Police Renew ‘Click It Or Ticket’ Campaign

The Illinois State Police (“ISP”) have rolled out their ‘Click-It or Ticket’ traffic campaign for November. State police are focused on motorist safety as traffic congestion has ticked from earlier in the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic shut down.

In November, the ISP will increase their daytime and nighttime patrols to ensure the safety of vehicle travelers through enforcement of all traffic safety laws. 

– Driving Under the Influence (DUI);
– Safety Belt and Child Restraint use;
– Speeding; and
– Distracted Driving

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, impaired driving is a factor in more than 30 percent of traffic deaths in Illinois. Likewise, speeding is a factor in nearly 35 percent of fatal crashes; and, nearly 50 percent of vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes were known to not be wearing a seatbelt. No matter what time of year it is remember to buckle up and put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. You will save your own life and protect your passengers and those around you.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Proposal Includes New Speed Camera Fine

Last week Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced her 2021 city budget. As usual, there was quite a bit of anticipation, but more so this year due to shortfalls that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic.

One interesting proposal includes a new speed camera fine that would ticket drivers going 6 mph over the speed limit. Speed cameras were originally introduced by pervious mayor, Rahm Emanual. They were implemented with a lot of skepticism despite Emanual’s repeated statements that they were implemented for safety reasons only. He was adamant that they were not a money grab for the city. Lightfoot has stated the same: speeding is “clearly a public safety issue” and stricter speed enforcement was necessary to keep motorists and pedestrians safe. She said “exponentially” more “speed-related accidents and deaths” in 2020 was the justification for the new ticket standard, which would start with a warning followed by a $35 ticket for a repeat offense.

This is interesting as data published by the Chicago Tribune , indicates that so far this year there are 20,000 less car crashes in the city compared to this time last year. There have been 28 more Chicago traffic fatalities this year compared to this time in 2019.

I think it is clear that the mayor is doing everything she can to come up with money for the budget shortfalls. I don’t necessarily blame her. But be aware as you’re driving around the city. There may be a camera tracking you and you may receive a ticket in the mail. Speeding, even slightly, could cost you money.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Traffic Accidents and Congestion Increasing Despite Covid-19 Shutdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every industry, the public sector and pretty much all aspects of our lives. When the pandemic started and the shelter in place order was announced by Governor JB Pritzker, traffic congestion and car accidents decreased dramatically.

The state slowly began opening back up again and traffic levels have increased in Chicago and throughout the state. They are still not and pre-pandemic levels, but as you drive around the city you are seeing much more congestion and the numbers back it up, which has been the reason for more car accidents, according to a car accident doctor.

Despit the record low levels of traffic from March through May, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) has reported 786 fatalities in vehicle crashes, a 16-person increase from 770 on Oct. 11, 2019.

This is an unusual trend that IDOT spokeswoman, Maria Castaneda, tried to explain recently: “While we can’t speculate and don’t know all the reasons why the overall numbers are aligning from last year with fewer cars on the roads, anecdotally we have noticed an increase in higher speeds,” C

Illinois State Police Sgt. Christopher Wilson added, “it is extremely difficult to make assumptions as to traffic trends, and even more difficult in these unprecedented times as we have no frame of reference to compare.”

So we are seeing more traffic on the road but not nearly as much as last year, yet Illinois traffic fatalities are at a higher rate than a year ago. According to a car accident lawyer, motorists are driving faster than normal, and are thus putting themselves in a much more dangerous situations. I would like to see more analysis than what IDOT has provided so we can understand why accidents, including deaths, have not gone down despite less traffic on the road. Do these accidents involve distracted drivers or texting and driving? If your car was severely damaged, are you in need of panel beaters? Was weather a factor? Driving too fast. Hopefully IDOT will provide us with a better understanding by the end of the year.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076 or contact us through our website at www.blgchicago.com.