Illinois Adds Zipper Merge To Its’ Rules Of The Road

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.

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

New Illinois Traffic Laws For 2019

It’s a new year, and I am happy to report there are several new traffic laws that were enacted by the Illinois legislature and will take affect this year. Most important, I am excited to write that the Illinois legislature has finally taken the initiative to stiffen texting and driving laws. Also, steps were taken to protect you children and bicyclists. Below are the new laws:

  1. Beginning July 1, 2019, anyone caught texting while driving will be issued a moving violation, which will go on their driving record. The $75 fine will still apply to a first offense. Previously, texting and driving tickets were not a moving violation and did not affect a drivers’ record.
  2. Beginning January 1, 2019 children under two (2) must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Penalties will be up to the discretion of local authorities, but Illinois State Police say a first offense could earn a $75 fine and up to $200 for a second offense. Children who are taller than 40 inches or weigh more than 50 pounds are exempt.
  3. And the “Dutch Reach” method is being added to the Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual, and bicycle safety questions will be asked during the state driver’s license test. The “Dutch Reach” method has drivers and passengers reach across their bodies to open the door after parallel parking. The method is meant to remind people to look back for cyclists before opening their doors in order to prevent “dooring” crash.

This is positive news for all Illinois residents. As I have written over and over through the years, the only thing that will help reduce texting and driving is stiffer penalties. A moving violation may not be far enough, but at least it has some teeth to it. A moving violation adds points to an Illinois drivers’ record, and three (3) within the same calendar year, can cause a drivers’ license to be suspended.

Also, I have been a proponent for bicyclist safety through the years, and the addition of bicycle laws into to the Illinois drivers manual is a huge step forward.

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

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.The 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.