Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Proposal Includes New Speed Camera Fine

Last week Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced her 2021 city budget. As usual, there was quite a bit of anticipation, but more so this year due to shortfalls that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic.

One interesting proposal includes a new speed camera fine that would ticket drivers going 6 mph over the speed limit. Speed cameras were originally introduced by pervious mayor, Rahm Emanual. They were implemented with a lot of skepticism despite Emanual’s repeated statements that they were implemented for safety reasons only. He was adamant that they were not a money grab for the city. Lightfoot has stated the same: speeding is “clearly a public safety issue” and stricter speed enforcement was necessary to keep motorists and pedestrians safe. She said “exponentially” more “speed-related accidents and deaths” in 2020 was the justification for the new ticket standard, which would start with a warning followed by a $35 ticket for a repeat offense.

This is interesting as data published by the Chicago Tribune , indicates that so far this year there are 20,000 less car crashes in the city compared to this time last year. There have been 28 more Chicago traffic fatalities this year compared to this time in 2019.

I think it is clear that the mayor is doing everything she can to come up with money for the budget shortfalls. I don’t necessarily blame her. But be aware as you’re driving around the city. There may be a camera tracking you and you may receive a ticket in the mail. Speeding, even slightly, could cost you money.

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

New Study: Illinois Traffic Fatalities Rose Over Last 5 Years

The online automobile insurance company, Esurance, released a new study that traffic fatalities have risen in the United States over the last five (5) years. Illinois was once of the states that saw an increase.

The study looked at the raw number, but also included the main contributed causes to fatal car accidents during this period. According to the study, crash fatalities in Illinois went up from 991 in 2013 to 1,096 in 2017, an 11% increase.

The number one cause of traffic fatalities in the state was speed, which was 42.2% of deadly crashes. Driving under the influence had 27.3% of crashes while distracted driving had 7.2% and drug-related car crashes had 3.8%.

Over the five year period, percentage of alcohol related fatalities decreased from 32.7% down to 27.3%. Meanwhile, the number of distracted driving crashes increased from 5.6% to 7.2%.

I am somewhat surprised to see some of these numbers. First, I would have assumed larger percentage would have been attributed to distracted drivers. Although, unsurprisingly, we did see distracted driving crashes did increase. We know that distracted driving has become an epidemic in the country. I was happy to see that this year stricter traffic laws were finally enacted in Illinois to combat this issue. As I wrote last month, police officers no longer issue warnings for first offenses. Also, any type of hand held phone use while driving is considered a moving violation, which is now a misdemeanor. With that comes higher fines and it is much easier to have your license suspended ( 3 offenses within a 12 month period).

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

Truck Drivers Hold “Slow Roll” Protest Trough Chicago Area

If you were driving on or near Chicago’s expressways earlier this month, you may have seen dozens of semi-trucks all driving slowly in one lane. According to media reports, this was an organized “slow roll” protest by the CDL Truck Driver Positions in an effort to improve their driving conditions.

The protest was to gain attention and push for more flexible working hours, relaxed rules on electronic logging devices, more training for new semitrailer drivers and more truck parking and amenities along expressways. Another sticking point is better training programs they say are lacking, creating dangerous conditions for everyone out on the road. 

The truck drivers left south suburban Monee at 10 a.m. and got on I-57 and drove north to downtown Chicago and then to O’Hare before heading back south on the Tri-State Tollway. The drivers were going single file in the right lane at the minimum posted speed.

Illinois State Police had warned the group called, ‘Black Smoke Matters” that slow-moving trucks could cause traffic back-ups or crashes. Police said truckers who participate could be held liable for any accidents. A tow truck company was on call in case of any issues. Illinois State Police monitored the traffic backups to keep traffic moving and drivers safe and said no car crashes or other issues occurred.  No traffic accidents were reported as a result of this protest.

I understand and support the ideas behind this protest to a point. I think trucking companies do need to provide better training for newer drivers and better continuing education and training for long time drivers. Their complaint regarding the electronic logging of their hours, on the other hand, is absolutely necessary. A major cause of truck accidents can be traced back to a drivers logging too many consecutive hours without sleep. The burden of logging hours and taking breaks and/or days off is a requirement that must be followed. I will be following this closely to see if the federal government becomes involved or if states like Illinois enact statutes that require companies provide better training for their new drivers.

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

Chicago Department Of Transportation Releases Detailed Car Crash Information

Last month the Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) released to the public detailed car accident data from September 2017 through July 2018. According to CDOT, the information was released as “a move toward transparency and part of push for more analysis that could help the city make headway in its ‘Vision Zero’ initiative aiming at ultimately reducing the number of traffic deaths to zero.”

The data revealed that since September of last year there have been 101,760 car crashes on Chicago streets. Below is some of the more detailed data that was disclosed:

The police department counted 18,885 injuries resulting from the crashes, 100 of them fatal.

• About 4 percent of crashes involved a vehicle hitting a cyclist or a pedestrian.

• Cellphone use — including texting — was found to be responsible in 188 crashes. More broadly, “distraction from inside the vehicle” as well as from other types of electronic devices was the cause of 817 car crashes.

• The police were unable to determine a primary contributor to a crash about 34.6 percent of the time. “Failing to yield right-of-way” was the top known cause of crashes, accounting for 12.1 percent of them. The second-leading cause of crashes was “following too closely,” which accounted for 11 percent.

This release of information was incredibly forthcoming and I believe will be helpful towards the city’s “Vision Zero” plan. I wonder, though, how accurate the distracted driver (texting) information is. If they are merely looking at Illinois Traffic Crash Report data and causes that are checked off, I do not think those numbers would be completely accurate. For example, a driver could have been ticketed for “failure to yield” or “driving too closely” but the crash reports may not show that the driver may have failed to yield because they were looking at their phone. I think a more detailed analysis of these numbers is needed.

If you or a loved one 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 To Add Five New Speeder Cameras This Summer

The Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) announced last week that they would be adding five (5) new speeder cameras around the city by the end of the summer. Two (2) of the cameras will be placed at Hiawatha and Kosciuszko parks on the Northwest Side. The other three (3) cameras will be placed near Major Hector P. Garcia MD High School on the Southwest Side, Near North Montessori School on the Near Northwest Side and Gary Comer College Prep High School on the South Side.

CDOT told the Chicago Tribune that ““Automated speed enforcement is a proven deterrent to speeding, and one of the most effective tools in our toolbox for reducing speeding and saving lives.” They further pointed out that this was another step in Mayor Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” plan, which is aimed at eliminating all traffic accident deaths by the year 2026.

I have written on the site multiple times about red light and speed cameras. Based on multiple studies (and a bribery scandal), the red light cameras have come under a lot of scrutiny for any safety value added to the community. On the other hand, speeder cameras, have not undergone as much scrutiny. For one, they are newer to Chicago and we don’t know the actual net impact they are providing for motorists and pedestrian safety. According to CDOT, safety cameras are actually making streets and walkways safer throughout the city. According to the Department the number of speeding violations has been trending down in areas with speed cameras since they were deployed in 2014, and average traffic speed has dropped from 26 mph to 22.5 mph. Crash data also show that the number of car crashes in areas with speed cameras was down 4 percent in 2015 compared to 2013, while for the rest of the city crashes were up 13 percent.

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

Hit And Run Accidents Reach Record High And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

According to a AAA Insurance press release, hit and run car accidents have reached an all time high.  AAA’s research done by the Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that a hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads. These hit and run accidents resulted in 2,049 deaths in 2016. This is the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009.

The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run car crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period.

It is illegal in every state to leave the scene of an accident, regardless of who caused the traffic accident. The penalty for leaving the scene varies depending on the whether there was property or personal injury damage. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois.

One thing I can recommend to Illinois drivers is make sure you have full auto coverage on your vehicles. This includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. What this means is that if you are struck by an uninsured vehicle or a vehicle that flees the scene and you are unable to collect their information, then your uninsured motorist coverage will kick in. This means that if you are injured in this type of accident, you can make a claim against your own insurance company for any injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of a normal life damages. All of this can and should be covered by your own insurance company. Based on the above hit and run numbers provided by AAA, I cannot stress how important it is to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage from your insurance carrier.

If you or a loved one 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.

U.S. Traffic Deaths Highest Since 2007

The National Safety Counsel reported today that there were 40,200, a 6 percent gain from 2015 and up 14 percent from 2014. This is the first time since 2007 that traffic fatalities exceeded 40,000 in U.S.

As I wrote last month, this is a disturbing trend due advances in auto safety technology that has been introduced in the last ten years. The increase in traffic deaths have been previously blamed on more drivers being on the road due to an improved economy. I believe that this was a legitimate hypothesis for 2012 through 2014 but it doesn’t explain why number keeps increasing.

As I previously discussed last month, the only conclusion I can come to is that people continue to use their phones while behind the wheel. The The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group,  released survey that support this conclusion. Their survey findings showed that 47 percent of motorists are comfortable texting while driving. Some 10 percent of drivers reported driving drunk, and 43 percent of them were involved in a crash while impaired, the group said. The survey also found that 16 percent said they don’t wear seatbelts on every trip, while 25 percent are comfortable speeding on residential streets.

To stem the tide, the group renewed a call for a total ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, even hands-free systems. It also called for mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, a three-tiered driver licensing system for all new drivers under 21 and other steps to curb car crashes.

I can’t say that I agree with the ban on hands free devices, but I am still convinced that there needs to be stiffer penalties on those who text and drive. This is especially true when the phone use results in a car crash that results in a personal injury.

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

 

Should Rideshare Companies Track Car Accident Statistics

I read an interesting article in the Red Eye this week, that investigated whether companies like Uber, Lyft and Taxi companies track the number of traffic accidents their drivers are involved in. You can read the article here.

The answer to the above question is no. Not only do rideshare and cab companies not track their driver’s car accidents, but neither does the state. All car accidents in Illinois that are reported to law enforcement must include an Illinois Traffic Crash Report. The investigating agency must fill out the report, which includes all of the driver information, whether medical treatment was required, whether traffic citations were issued and, most often, which driver was at fault for the traffic accident. The report also includes a box to check whether a driver was in a commercial vehicle (i.e. a tour bust or commercial van etc..) The report does not include a rideshare or taxi company classification. So, in theory, it is incredible difficult to to track the number of car accidents are caused by rideshare and taxi companies each year.

Should this change? Should the city of Chicago or the state alter the traffic crash reports to include a section regarding rideshares and taxi companies? I think the answer is yes. How do we know how safe these companies and their drivers are? I think it would be beneficial to start tracking these accident and classifying the type of drivers involved. This type of data would help local and state legislators determine if stricter driver qualifications are required for Uber and Lyft drivers. Should background checks and stricter driver testing be required? I don’t know the answer but we could learn a lot more if there were actual statistics taken on the number of car crashes occur every year.

If you or someone you love 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.

Dangerous Chicago Intersection Finally To Receive Renovation

The intersection located at Lincoln, Ashland and Belmont Avenues will receive an overhaul, according to online blog DNA Info Chicago.  This intersection, often referred to as “Six Corners” is considered to be one of the most dangerous and congested intersections in the city. An average of 35 car crashes occur each year with daily traffic around 62,000 vehicles. The intersection with the highest traffic crash rate — Stony Island, South Chicago and 79th in South Shore — had an average 63 car crashes with about the same traffic volume.

The changes proposed by the Chicago Department of Transportation will receive local, state of federal funding. These changes will include:

  • Extending curbs at all six corners, which shortens and straightens crosswalks. The Lincoln Avenue bump outs would be specially designed to straighten the street for a more “intuitive” crossing.
  • Eliminating four turns, including the left turns from northbound Lincoln to Belmont and from southbound Ashland to Lincoln. Right turns from northbound Ashland to Belmont and from southbound Lincoln to Ashland would also be restricted.
  • Moving bus stops to the far sides of the intersection — southbound Ashland buses, for example, would stop at the southwest corner in front of Central Savings bank.
  • Adding bicycle lanes with dedicated, dotted crossings along Lincoln Avenue. Bicycle boxed spaces painted green would also put bicyclists ahead of vehicles at the cross.

These are changes that are long awaited and should make the area safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists with the dedicated bike lane on Lincoln. I’ve said this before, but the city is standing by its’ statements from five years ago that they want to be a front runner for bicycle accessibility and safety. The city is proving again that they care about bicyclist safety.

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

Studies Show Summer Is Most Dangerous Time Of Year For Drivers

The Chicago Tribune published an interesting article last month about what we should expect this summer for on the highways in Illinois. Basically, the authors pointed out that that due to the increased number of expected travelers this summer, we should expect more car accidents and traffic fatalities than we saw in 2014. Going into Memorial Day weekend, Illinois already had 15 more traffic fatalities than the same time last year.

While vehicle fatalities have increased 5 percent in Illinois so far this year, motor vehicle deaths nationally increased 11 percent — to 8,250 fatalities — in the first three months of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council, based on preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The traffic safety administration’s official count includes only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days of accidents, whereas the safety council counts deaths that occur within a year of accidents.

Injuries resulting from car crashes in which medical care was received hit almost 1 million from January through March of this year in the U.S., a 26 percent increase from the same period in 2014, the safety council said.

The increase in crash-related deaths correlates to more vehicles on the roads, more total miles traveled and lower fuel prices, officials said.

The leading causes of traffic accidents continue to be intoxication and the use of cell phones. Despite most states, including Illinois, which have outlawed the use of cell phones while driver, not state has banned hands free usage.The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) and subsequently the the National Safety Council  have called for a ban on hands-free cellphone use of any kind, but no states have enacted laws completely prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving. Illinois law permits the use of hands-free devices, except in construction zones.

If you are going to be travelling on the road this summer, be sure to buckle up and put away your cell phone.

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