Chicago Transportation Commissioner: Traffic Crashes Are A Public Health Crises

Chicago Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, spoke to a group at the  City Club of Chicago last week making the claim that the number of traffic fatalities in and around Chicago has created a major health crises. The purpose of her speech was to make the case  for “Vision Zero,” a three-year plan with the  goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries that affect 2,000 people in Chicago each year.

The “Vision Zero” plan The plan will rely heavily on signs, surveillance cameras and “data-driven” enforcement to convince Chicago motorists to stop ignoring the city’s traffic laws.

Th neighborhoods that they plan on focusing on includes: the Loop, the Near North and Near West Sides, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, West Town, West Englewood, Englewood, Washington Park and Grand Boulevard.

“The only goal we should be aiming to achieve is zero. Zero deaths and zero serious injuries. We all have the right to walk, bike, take transit and drive on streets that are safe for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we live,” Scheinfeld said Monday.

A portion of her talk focused on the recent changes in red light tickets. Scheinfeld said the city has also agreed to begin the process to move red-light cameras from six existing intersections and place them at five new locations where the study shows red-light cameras would have a greater impact on safety.

 This is a lofty goal set forth by the city but it is the right one to make. I think it’s almost impossible to think that all traffic fatalities will be eliminated just due to the number of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that pack city streets everyday. If “Vision Zero” merely makes huge cuts in the number of traffic fatalities, I think it will be a success.

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

Chicago Continues To Install New Curb Protected Bike Lanes

The Chicago Tribune reported recently that the city of Chicago unveiled another new curb protected bicycle lanes. The lanes have a raised concrete median that protects bicyclists from motorists in the adjacent lane. The newest bike lane was constructed at 31st Street from LaSalle to Michigan Avenue. Previous curb protected bike lanes were installed last May on Sacramento Drive in Douglas Park, followed by one in November on Clybourn Avenue in Old Town There are plans in the works another similar lane in the downtown loop on Randolph from Michigan Avenue heading to Clinton Street in the West Loop.

“Curb-protected bike lanes provide better separation between people riding their bikes and people driving, provide better guidance for motorists as to where to park and or drive, prevent illegal parking in or near bike lanes, and are more aesthetically pleasing,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Chicago’s Mayor and the City Council catch a lot of flak for their handling of different issues like traffic cameras and the ride-sharing companies like Uber.  Regardless, I have to take my hat off to city officials for following through on their promise to make Chicago a world class bicycling city and to improve safety. These curb protected bicycle lanes are another step in that direction. Especially with amount of traffic congestion we see. It can obviously be dangerous at time for bicyclists to struggle for room on the roads. These curb protected lanes make life safer for everyone on the road.

If you or someone you love has been seriously been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

All State Study Reveals Chicago Drivers Are The Least Safe In Illinois

According to All State Insurance Company’s 2015 “Best Driver” report, Chicago was the most unsafe drivers in the state of Illinois. Out of the 200 U.S. cities ranked, Chicago ranked 134th, with drivers having a likelihood of being in a car accident 24.4 percent more than the national average, and having an accident once every eight years. Chicago was up one spot from last year at 139.

The other Illinois towns that were ranked in the report include: Rockford ranked No. 46, with drivers having a traffic accident every 9.9 years; Aurora ranked No. 65, with drivers having a car accident every 9.2 years; and Naperville ranked 100th on the list, with drivers having an auto accident every 8.7 years.

I think looking at this report at first blush, one could easily view Chicago drivers as being much more unsafe that other drivers around the state. But, I think we need to consider the fact that there are tens of thousands of more drivers in Chicago than anywhere else in the state. And – -as I have written numerous times in the past – – Chicago is one of the most congested cities in the country. The odds of being involved in an auto accident increase exponentially while driving in Chicago merely because there are so many of other motorists on the road. I do not have any scientific evidence to back this up but I think it should be a factor rather than automatically assuming that Chicago drivers are much more careless than other places around the country.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.


The Active Transportation Alliance Opposes Proposed Ban On Traffic Cameras

The Chicago Sun Times reported this week that the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking too kindly the recent efforts by aldermen to put an end to red light and speeder cameras. The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve safety and conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians and mass transit users around the city of Chicago.

Last week 14 alderman attempted to pass a bill that would eliminate all red light and speeder cameras by 2018. Though the bill failed, the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking any chances. They are pushing a new initiative called “Vision Zero,” which is based on the principles that no loss of life to traffic accidents is acceptable and that red-light cameras that serve as police force “multipliers” are pivotal tools that can prevent crashes.

Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, told the Sun Times Monday that he’s concerned the debate over red-light cameras has turned into a game of political football that could culminate in the loss of an “important traffic safety tool.”

He noted that, in 2012, there were more than 77,000 reported traffic accidents in Chicago, with 145 people killed and nearly 21,000 seriously injured.

“This is no time to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Burke said. “If it goes away all together, who’s gonna enforce these traffic laws? Who’s gonna be there when motorists are running red lights and putting people in danger?”

“The reality is that most cities don’t have enough police officers to enforce traffic laws. Photo enforcement is a great way to bridge that gap and effectively multiply the power of the police to enforce the law. If the cameras go away, it’s not likely that red lights are gonna be enforced anymore, or enforcement will be spotty, at best.”

I get where Mr. Burke is coming from here and I respect the mission and the efforts of the Active Transportation Alliance. But if you look deeply at the statistics of accidents since red light cameras were implemented in Chicago, you will see that there has been no “net” safety gain from these cameras. Yes, t-bone car crashes have decreased some, but rear-end traffic accidents have actually increased in the intersections where these cameras are located. What is the community benefit, other than money for the city, if the the cameras do not make intersections safer.

It will be interesting to watch what happens in the coming weeks and months. If Rahm Emanuel wins the election as expected, I do not see him putting an end to traffic cameras. He has steadfastly supported them since day one.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Rahm Emanuel Orders Removal Of 50 Red Light Cameras

After writing over the weekend that the Chicago mayor and city council should remove red light cameras, it was announced yesterday by multiple media outlets that the city would be removing fifty (50) red light cameras.

Red light cameras will be removed at the following locations:

• Ashland and 47th
• Ashland and 63rd
• Ashland and Archer
• Ashland and Diversey
• Ashland and Garfield
• California and 31st
• Central and Madison
• Cicero and Stevenson Expressway
• Cornell and 57th
• Cottage Grove and 95th
• Damen and Blue Island
• Elston and Foster
• Halsted and 63rd
• Halsted and 83rd
• Harlem and Northwest Highway
• Jeffrey and 79th
• Kimball, McCormick and Lincoln
• Narragansett, 55th and Archer
• Osceola and Touhy
• Pulaski and Montrose
• Stony Island and 83rd
• Vincennes and 111th
• Western Ave and 51st
• Western, Armitage and Milwaukee
• Western and Pratt

According to the mayor’s office the removals come as a result of a review of crash data performed by CDOT. Regardless, Mayor Emanuel is not backing down from his overall stance on red light cameras. “Red light cameras help reduce the most dangerous (car) crashes and allow police officers to concentrate on fighting crime, not writing traffic violations, and public trust is vital for this program to be effective,” said Mayor Emanuel.

I believe this is a positive first step regarding driver and pedestrian safety within busy Chicago intersections. If these cameras are viewed to have no net safety impact, then there is no reason to leave cameras in these intersections. I continue to believe that all the red light cameras should be removed because studies have shown that they can make intersections more dangerous. Regardless, I applaud the mayor for taking this initial step.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Chicago Tribune Study: Red Light Cameras Do Not Decrease Car Accidents

The Chicago Tribune commissioned an independent study with Texas A&M University professors to determine whether Chicago’s red light cameras actually make busy intersections safer for drivers.

The study, which confirms earlier studies by Texas A&M, concluded that the cameras make very little overall difference regarding traffic accidents.  The study, which accounted for declining traffic accident rates in recent years as well as other confounding factors, found cameras reduced right-angle crashes (t-bone accidents) that caused injuries by just 15 percent.  According to a car accident attorney, there was a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that caused injuries, illustrating a trade-off between the cameras’ costs and benefits.

“The biggest takeaway is that overall (the program) seems to have had little effect,” said Dominique Lord, an associate professor at Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering who led the Tribune’s study.  “So the question now is: If we eliminate a certain type of collision and increase the other and overall it stays the same, is there an argument that it is fair to go with the program?” Lord said. “That is a question that I cannot answer.  “Just the elected officials can answer for that.”

So there is the million dollar question. If there is no safety benefit, and merely an economic one, should the city continue with its’ red light camera program? Mayoral candidate, Alderman Bob Fioretti, stated last month that he would do away with the program and plans on submitting an ordinance in April. What will Mayor Emanuel do? He has yet to respond.

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

Reckless Homicide Charges Brought In Edgewater Neighborhood Car Crash

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the driver, who allegedly caused a fatal car accident in the Edgewater neighborhood, was charged with reckless homicide by States Attorney’s office. Prosecutors said the driver hadn’t been drinking, had a valid license and has no criminal background. Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered the Russian native’s passport seized.

The accident killed a 71 year old pedestrian and injured five (5) others when the defendant driver tried to pass a CTA bus on the right side through a parking lane. After striking two (2) pedestrians, his vehicle crashed into another which caused a chain reaction.

As I wrote yesterday regarding the Tony Stewart NASCAR accident, drivers who kill someone with their vehicles are typically charged with reckless homicide, which is often referred to as manslaughter. Since it is difficult to prove intent (i.e. that the driver purposely struck the pedestrians), reckless homicide carries a much lighter prison sentence than first or second degree murder. The defendant driver in this case will also be facing civil liability through a wrongful death lawsuit by the family or estate of the pedestrian who was killed at the scene. He will most likely also be sued for the personal injuries of the five (5) others who were injured.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.