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.

If you or a loved one has been 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.

Chicago Department of Transportation Launched New Traffic App: ChiStreetWorks

Those who live in Chicago know how bad traffic is in this city. It can be incredibly stressful, especially during summer months as there seem to be an abnormally high number of people on the road. The cities’ Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) has launched a new web based application call ChiStreetWorks with the purpose of helping drivers plan their trips in order to avoid major traffic jams.

The new App allows you to see past, current and future projects, as well as view permits for water, sewer, gas or electrical projects impacting City streets. The website went live to the public on Tuesday.

The map also provides users with features such as bus routes and stops, parking impacts, bike lanes, viaduct heights, speed and red light camera locations, and current traffic conditions. It also allows you to view where special events are taking place. 

Users can browse specific areas of the city by searching by neighborhood, ward, ZIP code, street intersection, or address and then select which categories of data they want to see: construction projects, utility-related permits, resurfacing memorandums, events impacting traffic, street closures, and detours. There’s also a tool to filter results by time to show activity from the past month or up to one year in the future.

This is a great initiative by the city, which provides much more detail than a typical Google or Apple Maps. We will see if it helps free up traffic and hopefully decrease the number of traffic accidents in the area.

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

Chicago Mayor’s Office Initiates Mobility Task Force

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to oversee a mobility task force for the city of Chicago. The purpose of the task force was to create a vision for the ever changing transportation systems including: roads; trains; buses; electric scooters; ride sharing; and bicycles. More specifically, the mayor’s office asked the task force to look at the following aspects of transportation:

  • Establishing clear mobility goals and effective governance that serve as a framework for planning for, evaluating and managing current and future mobility options and identifying the appropriate City leadership to ensure future decisions align with such goals.
  • Proposing changes to technology, policy, and public way use management to support the City’s mobility goals, including regulatory incentives, transit improvements, curbside use policies and data-sharing requirements/infrastructure.
  • Reviewing the areas of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; enhancing CTA and other City transportation assets; promoting low and no carbon mobility choices; and finding sufficient and sustainable funding sources.

Secretary LaHood’s task force has recommended that the city hire a “mobility chief,” who would oversee all aspects of improving transportation and how to pay for it. I think this makes sense as the type of overhauls this task force is recommending would need some sort of CEO type to oversee the implementation of these new infrastructures and programs.

I am all for improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. This includes reducing traffic, reducing the carbon imprint, reducing costs etc.. But to be honest, this entire task force seems to be more of a question mark than answer. The media reports state that the task force’s report recommend “50 specific actions, policy changes or studies.” I have not seen a press release showing us what these “specific actions” include. There have merely been snippets, such as hiring mobility chief, adding toll roads and possibly a gas tax and new mobility services and technology, with “smart lanes” dedicated to bicycles, van pools and other shared rides.

This is all great, but there has been no explanation on how to achieve these “50 specific” actions. I will be anxiously awaiting more information from the mayor’s office on how to achieve these goals, and whether the new mayor (Lightfood or Preckwinkle) will carry the torch and follow through on what the task force has recommended.

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.

Study Says Chicago 3rd Worst In Traffic Congestion

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company released a new study this week regarding traffic congestion in the U.S. and globally. The study revealed, to no ones surprise, that Chicago ranked as the 3rd most congested city in the U.S. The study stated that Chicago drivers wasted 138 hours sitting in traffic last year, and the traffic back-ups cost $1,920 per driver in 2018.

One reason experts have noted for the surge in traffic congestion in Chicago is due to the robust downtown economy. Several companies have opened new offices downtown and in the West Loop, including McDonalds and Google.

The thing that puzzles me about this ranking and about the traffic in general in Chicago is that there are so many alternate options for a work commute. Chicago has some of the most efficient train and bus lines with the CTA, and the number of bicycle commuters continues to grow, especially the number of dedicated bike lanes throughout the city. Also, Metra provides train rides for tens of thousands of commuters into the city every day. One factor that I didn’t see mentioned in any of the articles written about this study is the amount of road construction that has been going on. I-290 has been under construction the last several years. Hopefully when that is completed, it will free up a lot of the congestion from all directions coming into downtown.

If you or someone you loved 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

New Illinois Left Lane Traffic Law Now In Effect

I wrote a few weeks back about the new Illinois traffic laws for 2019. I did not mention a new statute that was enacted back in 2017, but went into effect this year. The new law, 625 ILCS 5/11-701, requires drivers to stay within the right lane in two (2) lane highways.

There are several exceptions, which include when passing other vehicles or moving over for an emergency vehicle. The Illinois State Police, who pushed for this new law, stated that the purpose of the provision is to keep traffic flowing and increase safety.
You’re not supposed to travel in the left lane and stay there,” said Lieutenant Matt Boerwinkle, spokesperson for Illinois State Police. “The main focus is to ensure that motorists have a means to get around traffic that should stay in the right lane.” The state police posted the hashtag
#LeftLaneLollygaggersBeware to their Facebook page.

Violators of this new traffic law will be hit with a $120.00 fine.

Should you or a loved become 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.

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 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.

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.

How The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Janus vs. AFSCME Will Affect Illinois Workers

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, that requiring all public sector workers pay their “fair share” of union dues despite receiving many of the benefits, is unconstitutional. The Court held that requiring payment of these fees was a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights.  The idea behind the law requiring fees from all employees is that the non-union public employees benefit from collective bargaining of the union so they should pay their fair share for the union’s representation, even if they aren’t union members. The ruling strikes down the laws in 23 states (including Illinois).

To clarify, Illinois public sector, non-union members were already allowed to opt-out of the paying fees for explicit political union activity. But Janus argued that, because public sector unions are by definition negotiating with the government, even workplace negotiations over hours or wages amount to political speech. So, a worker who opposed the union’s collective bargaining efforts was having his or her First Amendment rights violated.

To me, the argument by Janus was incredibly rich. Here he is receiving ALL the benefits from the union (better wages, better group health insurance, pension, sick leave etc..), without having to pay all of the fees because he does not believe, politically, in unions. Now, based on this ruling, he and other union members, can opt out of paying all of their union fees.

What does this mean for the public sector unions in Illinois and around the country? I think it is clear that this is a huge blow to unions. Legal scholars and union activists are estimating  10% to 30% unionized public employees might now decide to stop paying union fees. That could cause public-sector unions to lose $1 billion in revenue, perhaps forcing them to lay off lobbyists and organizers. The eventual fallout means it will be much more difficult to lobby and negotiate for a higher minimum wage, better student-teacher ratios, better health insurance etc. Unions have never been weaker in this country than they are now.

If you or a loved one has been 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.

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail Construction To Be Completed By End Of Year

The Chicago Sun Times reported last week about the construction developments for the lakefront trail. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), all efforts to revamp the trail will be completed by the end of 2018.

The purpose for all of the construction that has taken place the last several years has been to create separate lanes for cyclists and runners/walkers. Their goal is to make a safer path, which would reduce the number of collisions between bikers and runners.

The remaining construction includes the Navy Pier flyover, which included a ramp that will carry users over two busy intersections and connect to the Lake Shore Drive underpass. Currently, pedestrians and cyclists have to use the sidewalk underneath Lakeshore Drive, which is often congested and dangerous.

Much of the construction is complete, which covers an eighteen (18) mile stretch from Ardmore on the North side to 71st street on the South side. There are pockets where construction is set to start in August, but is said to be complete by the end of the year.

I have praised this construction project since it was announced over a year ago. Separate lanes for cyclists and runners was a bold project, but it seems to be working. The areas where the construction is complete has made the lakefront much less congested, which will hopefully  lead to less accidents.

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