Illinois Passes Two New Traffic Safety Laws

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed two (2) traffic safety bills into law this month. Both will take effect in July 2019. The first law creates stiffer fines for the use of a phone while driving. The new law, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

I guess you could say this is a step in the right direction, but I do not believe these new penalties go far enough. I don’t think these fines are enough of a deterrent for drivers to put their phones down while driving. Also, I don’t see any changes or stricter penalties for distracted drivers who cause car accidents that involve property damage or personal injury. As I have written over and over in the past, unless there are higher fines and/or stricter penalties, drivers will continue to to text and drive.

The other new law adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.T he Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes.

Those of us who live in the city know that “dooring” accidents are common and incredibly dangerous. It is important for drivers to always look and use caution before opening their driver side door when parked on busy street in order to avoid oncoming cyclists. This is a step in the right direction by educating drivers of their responsibility to protect bicyclists.

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

Bicycle Dooring Accidents In Chicago Up 50%

A report from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) stated that there were 300 dooring accidents (when a bicycle crashes into an open car door) in 2015. This was a 50% increase from 2014. There were 203 in 2014 and 270 in 2013 but down from the 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011. IDOT first started collecting this data in 2011. The data also showed that there was a 3% total increase bicycle accidents from 2014 to 2015.

The question remains why there was such a sharp increase in dooring accidents in 2015. The safety advocate group, Active Transportation Alliance, told media outlets that it is unclear whether the increase is merely due to stepped up enforcement and more vigilant reporting by those involved. Regardless, the group also believes that 300 plus dooring accidents per year is unacceptably high.

It must be pointed out that drivers who negligently open their door in front of a bicyclist is punishable under local Chicago ordinance § 9-80-035, which carries a fine of $300.00.

So what can drivers and bicyclists do to avoid these accidents and what can the city do to lower this trend? First, I think the city should at least consider increasing the fine for the offense as a preventative measure. Second, drivers, when parked on busy city streets need take the extra precaution of looking at their side mirrors before opening their doors. Chicago drivers need to accept the fact that Chicago is one of the busiest and most prolific cities for bicyclists in the world and should learn to share the roads, even when parked. And finally, bicyclists must understand how dangerous it is to bike around a crowded city like Chicago and must constantly remain vigilant about their surroundings.

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


Chicago Mayor Proposes Fine Hikes For Reckless Cyclists And Dooring Accidents

According to a report from the Huffington Post and WGN
 this week, Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has proposed several fine
hikes for bicyclists who disobey traffic laws and also against motorists who
commit a dooring accident (these are accidents where a driver opens their door
on a road causing a collision with a bicyclist).

Currently, bikers caught disobeying
traffic laws face a $25 fine for all offenses. Under Emanuel’s proposed
ordinance, that fine would be increased to an amount ranging from $50 to $200,
“depending on the severity of the violation.”

Drivers would face harsher penalties
for reckless driving as well. Under the proposal, WGN reports the fine for
motorists who “door” a cyclist — hitting bikers with a car door while entering or exiting a vehicle —
would see their fines double from $150 to $300.

According to WBEZ
(NPR News), 
there were 577 reported doorings in Chicago from 2009 through September
7, 2012. 
City and transportation
officials had previously noted many bicycle doorings still go unreported.

There is no doubt
that the roads in Chicago can be dangerous for both bicyclists and motorists
and that for each most co-exist together. Both motorists and bicyclists are, at
times, guilty of negligent behavior and they must be accountable, especially
when a vehicle collision occurs. Hopefully, if these measures will provide the
impetus for both cyclists and motorists to obey the rules of the road, as they
will no longer be facing just a slap on the wrist (i.e. a $25 fine).

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

Illinois Bicycle Group Seeks Exposure & Stiffer Penalty For Dooring Accidents

As I have discussed here in the past, the Illinois legislature has done a fair amount to protect bicyclists. Specifically, last year Governor Quinn signed into law a statute that empowers police to ticket motorists who “in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal-drawn vehicle.”  In 2008, the Illinois legislature passed a law which required drivers to keep a three (3) distance from bicycles on the road.

Although these are seen as improvement from preventing Illinois bicycle accidents, certain groups would like to see state-wide legislation regarding “dooring” accidents. In other words, when a parked motorist opens their door into a bicycle lane without leaving enough time or room for the bicyclist to veer out of the way.

The Active Transportation Alliance, which is a group involved in efforts to make streets safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists in the Chicago region, wants to raise public awareness and promote stiffer penalties for dooring accidents. They intend to launch a campaign to increase public awareness about dooring crashes. The group considers doorings the most prevalent threat to on-street cyclists.

Dooring accident are viewed as very dangerous.  The Chicago Tribune reported recently that informal surveys the alliance has conducted among its members indicate that more than half the people who bike on streets have been doored at least once, said Ethan Spotts, spokesman for the organization. But lacking solid statistics, bicycling advocates say they can neither prove a problem exists nor apply for federal and state traffic-safety funds to address it, he said.  From 2005 through 2009, there was an average of more than 3,500 crashes each year between vehicles and bicyclists in Illinois, resulting in 18 to 27 cyclists killed and more than 3,300 injured annually, according to IDOT statistics.

Unfortunately the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) or Illinois law does ot currently classify dooring accidents as a moving violation or as an actual vehicle accident because the car is not in motion.  IDOT’s position is that they are following national crash reporting standards. But doorings are a growing safety problem, and for IDOT to say this has been our standard for many years simply ignores a dangerous trend,”  Dan Persky of Active Transportation Alliance said. “Our proposal wouldn’t add to IDOT’s workload.”

Those familiar with Chicago know that this is a bicycle friendly city and there hundreds, if not, thousands of bicyclists on the road in our city at any time. I have heard many dooring accident stories and firmly believe there needs to be legislation enacted that would help prevent these accidents.  The bicyclists are not going anywhere, so it is time to start protecting them.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website