Chicago Department of Transportation Announced Start Of “Complete Streets” Program

As reported by Block Club Chicago, the Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) announced the start of long awaited bicycle lane construction in the Logan Square and Avondale neighboorhoods.

CDOT announced the installation of curb-separated bike lanes on Belmont from Kimball to Western avenues this summer as part of its Complete Streets program. The program is aimed to increase road safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. The bike lanes, which will provide an east-west connection to other lanes across the city, are one part of a much larger project to revamp Belmont. Also included in the Belmont Avenue improvement project are pedestrian crossings, floating bus stops and a dedicated bus lane coming to Diversey and Kimball intersection where the Belmont Blue Line station sits.

In Logan Square, CDOT announced a complete overhaul of Milwaukee Avenue between Belmont and Logan Boulevard. The plan includes ew raised sidewalks, gutters, street lighting, traffic signals and trees, along with curb extensions and bike lanes.

Also in Logan Square and Avondale, the city wants to install bike lanes and make other infrastructure improvements along Kedzie Avenue from Diversey Avenue to Addison Street. That project is in the planning phase, but construction should begin this summer, city officials said.

These are ambitous projects that are long awaited. CDOT stated that they should take about two years to complete. Unfortunately, the city has mourned the loss of two todlers who died in bicycle traffic accidents the last few weeks, which has created a public outcry for better or more dedicated bicycle lanes throughout the city. Although Chicago is one of the most bike friendly cities in the country, these improvements cannot come soon enough. Traffic congestion is back after the pandemic shutdown. Now is the time to improve our streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

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

$5 Billion From Infrastructure Bill To Fund “Safe Streets & Roads For All Program”

U.S. Department of Transportation head, Pete Buttigieg, announced that this week that $5 billion from the recent infrastructure bill would be used to address traffic safety as traffic deaths have soared in recent years. Buttigieg stated that the money would flow tocities around the country over the next five (5) years. The money will slowing down cars, carving out bike paths, wider sidewalks and encouraging commuters to public transit. The department titled the new program “Safe Streets & Roads For All.” More specifically, the Department state the money would focus on adding rumble strips to slow cars or installing speed cameras, which the department says could provide more equitable enforcement than police traffic stops; flashing beacons for pedestrian crosswalks; new “safe routes” via sidewalks or other protected pathways to school or public transit in underserved communities; and other “quick build” roadway changes designed with community input. Roadway deaths represent about 95% of all U.S. transportation deaths, at more than 38,000 in 2020. In 2021, data released so far has already shown U.S. traffic fatalities rising to 31,720 through the third quarter, the highest nine-month period since 2006. Before 2020, the number of U.S. traffic deaths had fallen for three straight years. “We face a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways, and these tragedies are preventable – so as a nation we must work urgently and collaboratively to save lives,” Buttigieg said. He said the money “will help communities large and small take action to protect all Americans on our roads.” “We have become far too accustomed to the loss of life and serious injuries happening on our roadways,” he said. Let’s hope cities (including Chicago) can work quickly with the Department of Transportion so that these plans can be implemented. Traffic fatalities have risen sharply, especially since the pandemic began, and thoughtful safety plans should help curb this trend for all americans whether you live in a rural community or a big city and everywhere in between. 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.

Illinois Supreme Court Issues Favorable Ruling For Those Injured By Companies and Their Employees

In McQueen v. Green 2022 IL 126666, the Plaintiff was a driver who was injured after being struck by a truck. The Plaintiff McQueen sued both the driver and his employer, Pan-Oceanic. The defendant employer admitted that the defendant driver, Green, was its’ employee and was within the course and scope of his employment when the accident occurred. The Plaintiff also alleged in his complaint that Pan-Oceanic was negligent for ordering Green to drive the truck immediately prior to the accident, despite being informed by Green that the trailer had been improperly loaded. At trial, an Illinois jury found in favor for the Plaintiff against the employer but also found that the defendant driver was not liable. The defendant employer appealed, arguing that the verdict was inconsistent. The defendant argued that Pan-Oceanic could not be held liable for the Plaintiff’s damages if their employee was not found liable. The appelate court agreed and over-turned the jury’s verdict.

The Plaintiff then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, who then issued their opinion on April 22 of this year that it is “settled law” that a plaintiff may plead and prove multiple causes of action and that, so long as there is a good-faith factual basis for a plaintiff’s claim of direct negligence against an employer, the plaintiff is allowed to pursue that claim in addition to a claim of vicarious liability against the employee. The Supreme Court held that the verdicts were not inconsistent because they involve two (2) theories of negligence. First, that the Plaintiff alleged that the employee/driver drove the truck negligently when he allowed the trailer to swing and hit the Plaintiff’s vehicle. And second, the Plaintiff alleged that the employer was negligent because they new that the trailer had been loaded improperly and knew it was dangerous, yet still order their driver to get on the highway and bring the trailor back. The Supreme Court reinstated the jury’s verdict. This was the right decision by Illinois’ highest court. It is perfectly plausible for an employee driver to do nothing wrong, but still cause an accident because their employer ordered them to drive a truck that was inherinty dangerous for being loaded improperly. As long as separate counts are brought against the driver and the employer (which was done in this case), the Court came to the proper conclusion. This is a victory for injury victims in Illinois.

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

Are Electronic Traffic Messages Safe For Drivers?

When driving around Chicagoland area and most of the state of Illinois, drivers see electronic signs on highways. These messages range from reminders to buckle up, warn of upcoming construction and even list the number of traffic deaths in the state that year. These messages are called electronic dynamic message signs (“DMSs”).

These messages are obviously posted to help keep drivers on alert and hopefully keep them safe. Two researches recently published a paper after studying these sign for the Texas Department of Transportation. The study looked at the effectiveness of these signs and whether they actually improve safety for drivers in the immediate area of the signes.

The study compared crashes downstream of DMSs across the state during periods when traffic safety messages with fatality numbers were being displayed versus not being displayed. To control for other possible factors influencing their results, they also compared crashes on those same roadway segments before the fatality message campaign began and on roadway segments upstream of the DMSs. They concluded that the display of traffic safety messages with fatality numbers resulted in a 1.35% increase in traffic crashes up to 10 km downstream of the DMSs.

The researchers concluded that messages with fatality numbers are overly salient to drivers. In other words, the messaging on deaths can cloud a drivers brain with too much worry and ulitimately distract them. Another hypothesis of the study was that the design of the signs can cause information overload, and again distract a driver.

The study did not assess other factors such as crash type or other causal factors. I believe additional analysis is needed to ensure these numbers aren’t just a coincidence. There is additional informatin we need to know such as were there weather factors or were the drivers on their phones? Or were they struck by an impaired or distracted driver that was coming in the opposite direction? This information would give us a clearer answer as to wether the DMSs were actually causing the roads to be more dangerous or whehter these numbers are just an aberration.

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

NHTSA: 2020 Saw Increase Hit And Run Traffic Fatalities

The National HighwaysTraffic Safety Association (“NHTSA”) released its’ data last month on 2020 traffic deaths. US roads saw the largest increase on record in deaths per mile traveled in 2020, including a 26% increase in hit-and-run fatalities that outpaced the increase in overall deaths.

Hit-and-run deaths have grown steadily in the last 15 years as a share of traffic deaths. Victims of hit-and-runs are also increasingly pedestrians and cyclists. In 2020, 69.6% of hit-and-run deaths were either pedestrians or cyclists, compared with 61.1% in 2006. Roughly one in four pedestrian deaths in 2020 was a hit-and-run.

Early analysis shows that pedestrian deaths did not decline in 2021, indicating that 2020 wasn’t a fluke. Overall traffic deaths per mile in the first nine months of 2021 increased marginally from 2020.

The NHTSA and other traffic experts could not provide the reasoning behind the gradual increase, but there were some suggestions as to the problem. Some believe that the decline in public transportation ridership in 2020 could have led to the increase in pedestrian deaths and hit and runs. Others have pointed out that alcohol and impaired driving fatalities grew 14% in 2020, outpacing the 7.2% increase in overall traffic deaths when compared with 2019.

What is the plan going forward and what can the government do to help curb the increase in pedestrian traffic deaths? The NHTSA plans to propose changes to the new car assessment program that may emphasize safety features that protect people both inside and outside vehicles. In 2020, 34% of traffic deaths occurred outside vehicles, a rate that’s increased steadily since hitting a low of 20% in 1997. The agency has also said it’ll develop rules for requiring automatic emergency braking for pedestrians on new passenger vehicles, but not heavy trucks.

The Department of Transportation plans to feature a “safe system” approach, which emphasizes the responsibility of all actors in a system, including roadway engineers. US road design has long prioritized moving vehicles at high speeds rather than protecting all road users.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in Chicago pedestrian accident or a Chicago truck accident, then call the Chicago personal injury lawyers at the Bryant Law Group, LLC. for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Did The Pandemic Help Cause The Surge In Traffic Fatalities

I have written about the ebbs and flows of traffic patterns in Illinois and accross the U.S. since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Back in the summer of 2020 data showed predictably that traffic was way down once the pandemic shutdown began. Despite much fewer drivers on the road, there was a significan uptick in reckless driving accident. Observers and experts believed that with fewer cars on the road, drivers were more emboldened to drive faster.

We are almost two year in to the pandemic and the numbers for traffic fatalities, and specifically pedestrian traffic deaths are staggering. According to the New York Times Crashes killed more than 6,700 pedestrians in 2020, up about 5 percent from the estimated 6,412 the year before, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. These numbers are somewhat misleading because there was much less traffic on the road in 2020. Another study concluded that it was actually a 21% increase in pedestrian deaths based on the number of drivers. Although, we don’t have the numbers yet, it looks like there was another increase in 2021.

What is causing this behavior in drivers and how can we prevent it? One expert quoted by the Times believes it has to do with the number of aging drivers and the large number of SUVs on the roads which are much larger and carry a heavier impact. Others point to the increase in street racing and irratic driving. There’s no doubt those are all contributing factors. One point the article did not raise is the increase in distracted drivers. Many people still refuse to put their phones down while driving. Although the penalties for driving while texting in Illinois have become more strict over the last ten years, there’s still an argument for higher fines. Especially in situations involving injury or deat.

But has the pandemic actually led to this rise in fatalities? I don’t think we’ll know for several years. There will need to be a hard look at all the numbers as to whether alcohol was involved or whether these accidents involved excessive speeds. Regardless, i think this is an epimic right now and will continue to until we see these numbers go down.

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

Jane Byrne Interchange Construction To Be Completed This Year

Those of us who drive in an around downtown Chicago recieved great news this week. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) announced that the Jane Byrne Interchange (where I-290 connects with I-90/94 downtown) that the majority of construction renovations will be completed by December 2022.

“We are actually scheduled to complete major work by December of this year,” said Eric Ray, IDOT District 1 area construction supervisor. “That includes the northbound and southbound lanes and also the Jackson and Adams Street bridges, work on Ida B. Wells and 290 and the ramps that connect them.”

This has been a long time waiting as construction began back in 2013. As I have writtin many times in the past, Chicago consistantly ranks as the one of the top most traffic congested cities in the U.S. and the world. A lot of that congestion is created by the bottleneck at 290 and 90/94 interchange. Parts of the interchange have been shut down over the last 9 years, creating larger and longer traffic jams. I am still not sure how much the completion of this project will help, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. There still needs to be improvements on highways outside of downtown that will hopefully ease the bottleneck coming in and out of the city. As I wrote a few years back, look for some of the federal infrastructure money that was passed last year to go to these road improvements.

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.

Tesla Vehicles Recalled For Rolling Stop Signs

Multiple new outlets, including the Associated Press, announced this week that that oveer 54,000 Tesla vehicles are being recalled because their “Full Self-Driving” software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt.

The recall shows that Tesla programmed its vehicles to violate the law in most states, where police will ticket drivers for disregarding stop signs. The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, said it is not aware of any state where a rolling stop is legal.

The recall covers Model S sedans and X SUVs from 2016 through 2022, as well as 2017 to 2022 Model 3 sedans and 2020 through 2022 Model Y SUVs.

Tesla agreed to the recall after receiving feed back from the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The NHTSA says failing to stop for a sign can increase the risk of a crash. “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including intentional design choices that are unsafe,” the agency said. “If the information shows that a safety risk may exist, NHTSA will act immediately.”

This seems like a sneaky move by Tesla to include “rolling stop sign” in their software. It is true that a lot of drivers probably roll through a stop sign when it seem safe and no other cars are around. But what if the Tesla was in auto-pilot mode in a four-way intersection and the driver isn’t paying attention? I agree with the NHTSA that this is unsafe. Tesla did release a statement that there were no recorded traffic accidents resulting from the “rolling stop sign” mode.

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.

Chicago’s E-Scooters To Be Banned From Lakefront and 606 Trails

WTTW reported this week that Chicago’s e-scooter program would not allow riders on the 606 trail. The Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) originally stated that the e-scooters would not be allowed on the lakefront pathway, but announced yesterday that the ban would also include the city’s busy 606 trail.

 The 606 is a 2.7-mile elevated rail trail running east–west on the northwest side of Chicago. The 606 is the former Bloomingdale Triain Line, which was converted into an elevated greenway, which runs through the Logan Square, Humbolt Park and West Town neighborhoods.

CDOT unsurprisingly also anounced that e-scooters would be banned from the downtown river walk and from O’Hare airport. E-scooter companies will bid for three (3) available two-year licenses from the city to deploy a maximum of 3,000 scooters on Chicago’s streets this spring. Each firm would be allowed no more than 1,000 scooters, according to the rules. 

“Companies will be allowed to deploy additional devices if they meet specific ridership, safety, compliance and education requirements,” according to a statement from the departments of Transportation and Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The program could expand to 12,500 scooters with the support of Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi’s support.

The deadline for firms to apply is Feb. 18, officials said. 

I think this is the right move by CDOT and the city council. The lakefront, 606 and riverwalk are all incredibly busy trails that can attract thousands of walkers, runner and bicyclists per day during warm weather. The addition of e-scooters, which are implemented to help reduce vehicle traffic on the city streets, would could cause undo congestion on the trails. The e-scooters will be available to rent through an online app, similar to the Divvy bicycles are currently available.

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

The Do’s and Dont’s When When Involved In A Traffic Accident

It’s wintertime and the roads in Chicago and around the state of Illinois can be treacherous this time of year. A car accident or a truck accident can be a very stressful moment for many people. It’s improtant to keep your cool and think rationally if you have the unfortune of being involved in a car crash. Below is a comprehensive list of things you should and should not do should you be involved in a traffic accident.

• Do get names, addresses, license plate and phone numbers of those drivers involved. This includes any witnesses.
• Do call the police immediately or have someone at the scene call for you;
• Do take photographs of scene and your injuries;
• Do take care of your injuries-concentrate on getting better (i.e. go to the emergency room or set an appointment with your primary care physician);
• Do keep records of your medical treatment and time missed from work;       

• Do make sure to purchase adequate full coverage auto insurance, including uninsured motorist coverage in case you are struck by an uninsured driver or the victim of a hit and run;
• Do not talk or give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company;
• Don’t attempt to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company before your medical treatment is completed;
• Don’t wait months from the date of injury before hiring an attorney, as your right to file claim or lawsuit may be barred; and
• Don’t wait days or weeks from the time you are injured to seek medical attention. Your health comes first and also insurance companies are wary of paying for medical bills if treatment is postponed.

This is not an exhaustive list, but they are simple steps you can take in order to protect your rights as accident victim. Should you or a loved become seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, at 312-614-1076 for a free legal consultation.