IDOT Releases April Traffic Numbers

Anyone who looks out their windows or gets in their cars and drives around Chicago’s expressways can see that motorist traffic is a fraction of what it was two (2) months ago. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) confirmed what we see everyday as they released April traffic numbers. No surprise, they are way down.

According to IDOT traffic on Chicago area expressways was down anywhere from 29 to 45 percent this April compared with April 2019. IDOT said that on the Kennedy Expressway, the number of work week inbound vehicles dropped from 1.1 million vehicles to 626,000, a 45 percent drop. Statewide traffic is estimated to be down about 37 percent. Illinois Toll Highway Authority said April saw a reduction fo 55 percent in traffic volume, resulting in $52 million less in tolls than expected

For essential workers or those who choose to go into their offices are obviously seeing much faster commute times. According to IDOT the outbound evening rush hour are an average of 21 to 24 minutes faster. 

IDOT to not release any information regarding Illinois traffic accidents for April.

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I wrote in the my last post about the new Illinois traffic laws that went into effect at the beginning of the year. One of those new laws is the inclusion into the Illinois rules of the is is known as the zipper merge. The Illinois Rules of Road handbook for student drivers will now include an explanation of a zipper merge.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”), a zipper merge is when there is a lane closure due to construction or a traffic accident, drivers are to fill in both lanes all the way up to the merge point, at which point motorists will then have to take turns merging into the single lane. Traffic experts believe that is the quickest way to get through construction sites and entrances on highways during busy season. According to a 2013 Minnesota study, using the zipper merge reduces the length of traffic backups by as much as 40%, reduces congestion, creates a sense of fairness with everyone moving at the same speed, and reduces road rage.

This is the opposite of how most drivers have been operating for years. Typically, most drivers will get in line the lane that remains open after the merge. The challenge for the state is re-training drivers that the most efficient and safe way to drive is to fill both lanes. That is why all new drivers are learning this new method in the Rules of the Road handbook.

It will be interesting to see if motorists follow this new method as we see road construction all over the Chicago area during the spring and summer. I will also be looking to see if IDOT includes specific signage at construction sites that indicates to drivers that both lanes are available and should be used up until the merge point.

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Saliva Tests For Drug Detection In Illinois Raises More Questions Than Answers

I wrote earlier this week about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois. As I mentioned in the article, state police and individual police departments will be tasked with determining whether drivers are impaired by more than just alcohol. This will be difficult because marijuana can stay in someones blood for up to 30 days, and sometimes longer depending on how frequent someone uses the drug.

One police department, Carol Stream, has started a pilot program to test saliva of drivers who have already been arrested. The program is being funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”).  An officer currently determines whether a driver is impaired at the scene, brings that driver back to the police station, administers a chemical test (blood or urine) and then the saliva test is offered on a voluntary basis. It does not affect that person’s case and is just part of a study. The testing has not been approved to be used roadside.

Let me be clear, I have a lot of problems with this program, and a lot of questions need to be answered. First, readers should realize that there are 4th amendment (illegal search and seizure) violation issues that arise with this type of testing. If someone is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer test. No police officer can force you to take that test. Although, the saliva test has not been approved for roadside use, there will never be a time where I believe courts will confirm that forcing this type of test when someone is pulled over would be legal under the 4th amendment. Also, a driver does not have to submit to a blood test either. Although, if someone is arrested, a police officer can seek a warrant to take someone’s blood sample. Again, will the police be able to seek a warrant for a saliva test as well? I do not believe these types of warrants should be allowed unless or until the accuracy of these tests passes scientific measure. Again, how accurate are these tests? I don’t think we know yet.

Without knowing more, I cannot endorse this type of saliva testing by police departments. Remember, if you do get pulled over, you do have rights. You do not have to submit to any of these tests without a proper warrant. Also, always contact an attorney if you have been arrested. You have rights, and one of those is to defend yourself against charges to DUI and against illegal searches and seizures.

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

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Those of us who live in the Midwest have know all too well that the severe winter weather is upon. The Midwest, including the Chicagoland region, have been hit with snow and ice over the last week. It is important to take precautions when driving in severe weather, and luckily the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has provided a list of tips before driving icy or snowy conditions:

1.  Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to black ice, an invisible danger during some winter storms.
2.  Make sure your gas tank is full.
3. Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
4.Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route and schedule.
5. Carry a cellphone in case of emergency. Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
6. Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.

Please be careful while driving this winter, and take a close look at the tips provided by IDOT.

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 .

Illinois Department of Transportation Planning Distracted Driving Summit

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced last week that they are going to hold a safety summit on October 30 in Sangamon County. The summit which will focus on distracted driving. This announcement came one week after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that August 17 was Traffic Fatality Awareness Day.

Some of the current work championed by IDOT includes displaying crashed cars at rest areas as a physical reminder of the importance of responsible driving, dynamic messages signs across the state that display topical messages to capture public attention, and continued development of new ways to improve safety in work zones.

IDOT has previously focused on the seriousness of distracted driving. Earlier this year they launched a multi-media campaign called “Life or Death Illinois.” The campaign focuses the importance of safe driving and appealing to audiences to stop and consider the seriousness of the issues on the state’s roads. This was the first time IDOT expanded its key safety messages beyond the ongoing problems of impaired driving and unbuckled motorists to include new materials aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries tied to motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, work zones and distracted driving.

I will be interested to find out more information about this traffic safety summit. I’m interested to find out if they will be focusing any time on bicyclist safety. The number of bicycle commuters (especially in Chicago) continues to grow and emphasizing safety for everyone on the road should be an priority.  I will also want to know if they will discussing stiffer penalties for those caught and ticketed for driving while using their phones.

Should you or a loved one become seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Traffic Fatalities Up Again In 2017

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), 1080 people died from traffic accidents in 2017. That is up two (2) from the year before and more than what was recorded in 2014 and 2015.

“Distracted driving continues to be a concern, but it is incredibly hard to detect and enforce, some things we’ve noticed are an increase in number of motorcycle fatalities. Last year in February, it was warm enough for motorcyclists to be out on the road already.” said Kelsea Gurski, with IDOT.

IDOT said 158 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents last year. That was four more than had been killed the year before and 40 more than in 2014.

I have not seen any numbers to date trough the first two (2) months of 2018, so it is unclear whether we are at a better pace that 2017.

I agree with the IDOT spokesperson who stated that disctracted driving his hard to detect and enforce. As I have written in the past, the best solution, in my eyes, is to increase the fines and penalties for someone who is caught using their phone while driving. That is the only deterrent. I think it is fair to say that the stricter penalties for DUIs is one of the reasons we have seen a drop in drunk driving fatalities over the last 20 years.

If you or someone you know 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.

IDOT And CMAP Propose New Initiatives To Relieve Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

Those who commute by car to work everyday in and around Chicago, know how stressful the traffic can be. It can be stressful just trying to drive to the one of the airports, or coming down to the city over the weekend. Chicago has been documented as one of the worst cities in the U.S. when it comes to traffic gridlock. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) and (“CMAP”) have recently teamed up to plan alternative solutions for freeing up some of the traffic gridlock in and around Chicago.

One of their first proposed ideas is congestion pricing. Congestion pricing would allow motorists to pay for the privilege of bypassing gridlock. According to CMAP, a congestion pricing added lane can shorten a motorist’s morning rush-hour commute by a third to two-thirds. Rush-hour traffic in un-tolled lanes would drop by a quarter to a third, according to CMAP research.

The second suggestion is  using expressway shoulders for buses, an idea already used on the Jane Addams tollway and on Interstate 55.

Another suggestion to their plan would be installing sensors along expressways that gather real-time data on bottlenecks, so motorists know ahead of time which stretches to avoid.

This all seem like legitimate ideas, but do we know if they will really work? Also, how would the state pay for all of this? Once possible solution is an additional gas tax.

I am a little dubious of all of the above ideas. I am not an engineer or a traffic expert, but none of the plans take the actual number of total commuters of the road. The additional bus lane is a start, but I really cannot think of many people that would take a bus out of or into the city due time on the commute. I would like to see further study into high speed trains and/or additional train lines. If Metra and the state can offer faster trains and/or more trains in and out of the city, I believe we would have more commuters deciding to stay out of their vehicles. Of course I don’t know the cost and whether this is even feasible, but if we want less vehicles on the road, it seems to me the most viable option would be a faster train system.

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.

IDOT Pushes “Winter Weather – Get It Together”

If you live in the Chicago area, or really anywhere in the Midwest, you know that winter is upon us. We had our first snow last weekend and we are looking at upwards of 12 inches of snow through tonight in the Chicagoland area. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) has been working hard to help drivers avoid traffic accidents and stay safe on the roads during the winter months. IDOT issued a press release recently called “Winter Weather – Get It Together,” which provides a list of driving tips to use when the roads are snowy and icy. Below is a list of driving tips:

  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois.
  • Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.
  • Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. A snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see him, but he may not see you.
  • Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
  • Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
  • Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All of them are prone to icing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route. Consider taking public transportation if it is an option.
  • Prepare an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency.
  • Follow Scott’s Law. Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles. ·
  • For more winter driving tips, check out this short IDOT video

Please be careful when driving in winter weather, but if you or someone you love is injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation. Call 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation.

IDOT Urging Pedestrians & Motorists To Pay Attention In Order to Avoid Accidents

As I wrote recently, traffic accident and traffic fatalities were up in Illinois in 2015 from 2014 and appear to up again in 2016. More specifically, car accidents involving pedestrians are up in Illinois from this time last. The Chicago Tribune took note of these recent trend in article asking the question why? According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”), they are urging both pedestrians and drivers to put their phones down and focus on the the road in front of them.

“We urge pedestrians to use caution and common sense when crossing the street — use crosswalks where available and make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. We urge motorists to be cautious as well — be alert for pedestrians, especially when approaching intersections,” IDOT Secretary Randall Blankenhorn said in a statement.

Some local suburbs, including Naperville, are making an effort ticket distracted drivers. Naperville joined several other suburbs recently along the Route 59 corridor, including Aurora and Plainfield, as part of a joint enforcement campaign that gave out 32 citations for cellphone violations in a single day.

Is this enough? Probably not. It seems every time I’m driving around town I see drivers around me with their noses in their phones. This occurs all the time, and not always when at a stop light. So what is the solution? As I have written many times before, I believe Illinois needs harsher penalties for distracted drivers. Especially when there is a traffic accident, injury and certainly a fatality. This means higher fines and the threat of jail time.

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

2013 Saw A Slight Increase In Illinois Traffic Fatalities

The Chicago
Tribune
 reported this month that there was a slight increase in
traffic fatalities in 2013. T
here were 973 crash fatalities in 2013 compared with 956 fatalities in 2012, a nearly 2 percent
increase.  Despite the slight uptick, the report points out that this was
the fifth year in a row where car accident deaths were below 1,000. This is a dramatic
change from previous decades regularly saw traffic deaths well over a
thousand. 
 

The
Illinois department of transportation attributes this recent level of traffic fatalities to the strict enforcement of traffic laws like the seat belt
law. IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said the department credits the
historically low fatalities in recent years to “increased seat belt usage
as a result of Illinois’ primary belt law, education and enforcement,” and
to safety improvements to the roads. But the department is not satisfied,
she said. “Our goal is to drive zero fatalities to a reality in
Illinois and get everyone to their destination safely,” she said.  

The
uptick in traffic deaths in Illinois comes as the number of traffic fatalities
in the U.S. is expected to be lower in 2013 than it was
 in 2012. In Wisconsin, for example, officials expect that traffic deaths in
2013 — totaling 519 in late December — were far below the state’s five-year
average of 571.

As I have written about
in the past, there are two new laws that went into effect in 2014 that could
the number of traffic accidents in Illinois. First, is the total ban of hand
held cell phone use throughout the state. The second is the speed limit
increase on certain interstates to 70 mph. It will be interesting to see which
direction the number of car crashes and traffic fatalities ebbs or flows in the
next year with these new laws in effect.

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 for a free legalconsultation at 312-588-3384.