Chicago Inspector General Rips City’s Traffic Light Management

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week on local Inspector General, Joe Ferguson’s, blistering report about multiple traffic management inssues within the city. The report states, in part, ““Rather than proactively maintaining and retiming traffic signals, [the city] conducts most of its work in response to 311 complaints, aldermanic requests and major construction projects,” the report concluded. “This approach to maintenance limits [Chicago’s] ability to address problems before they become hazardous or unnecessarily expensive to repair.”

The report also states that the traffic light management in Chicago is woefully understaffed. Chicag has four traffic signal engineers while federal recommendations say it should have 28, the report said. Also, Chicago has 27 traffic signal technicians, compared with a federal recommendation of 71.

This is not encouraging news for several reasons. First, this report reveals the lack of progress needed to meet previous mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” plan, which aimed at eliminated all pedestrian fatalities. Second, based on the city’s response, there doesn’t appear to be any urgent plan to correct these issues due to budgetary deficites. There were plans to install monitoring technology to 229 intersections, but that has been put on hold and will implemented over the next several decades.

I would like to wait and see Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to this report before casting too much blame. She has only been in office for a year and has had to respond to a global pandamic, protests and riots. I believe she will respond, but this was not a good report. Based on earlier budget decisions, it appeared that Lightfoot was focused on decreasing traffic congestion and making our streets safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. This report sheds light on issues that need to be addressed before the city can fully say they are committed to improving traffic safety, decreasing congestion and pollution. The ball is in her court.

If you or a loved one have 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 Car Crashes Have Been More Severe During Covid-19 Shutdown

As many would suspect traffic is way down during the Covid-19 shutdown. There have been an estimated 70% less Chicago car accidents since the shelter in place order began in mid March. This comes as no surprise due to the lack of motorists on the road. Regardless, according to the Northwestern University Transportation Center (“NUTC”), we have seen an increase in the severity of Chicago car crashes. This has also led to the increase of people contacting personal injury law firm attorneys for guidance. If you have unfortunately gotten into a crash and need a quick repair, then consider going to this collision repair services for assistance.

According to some personal injury lawyers Northwestern’s study, found that after the stay-at-home order went into effect, the percentage of incapacitating or fatal crashes ticked up. “You had so much less traffic,” said NUTC Director Hani Mahmassani. “That was so unusual. You’re so used to driving very slowly on Chicago streets, so when you had that, people’s natural instinct was to speed up.” According to a car accident attorney, car accident cases have picked up not only in Chicago but throughout the country.

Chicago and the state of Illinois are not alone with these numbers According to the National Safety Council (“NSC”). “In some states, anywhere from 50% to 70% less miles (are driven), but the fatalities are up,” said NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin. “We really need to get to the root cause and understand what the behavior is that’s causing this kind of disturbing spike in very severe crashes were owners have need the help from smash repairs Doncaster to take they cars out again.”

Why the increase in traffic fatalities and severe injuries? The NSC believes drivers feel at liberty to drive at excessive speeds as very few others are on the road. Local Chicago officials believe they have seen an uptick in speeders since the shutdown. The Chicago Department of Transportation warned of a 14% of increases speeders on city roadways. The Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police said they’ve increased visibility and have some targeted patrol efforts. But Martin says road safety doesn’t just fall on law enforcement.

Even if there are less drivers on the road, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of others on the road. There are many who believe they can speed and drive recklessly when no one else is out there.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in 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 Police Conduct Roadside Stops Based On Stay At Home Order

The Chicago Police announced this week that they would be conducting roadside safety checks pertaining to the “stay at home order” issued by Governor JB Pritzker. The “stay at home order” was issued due to the outbreak of the Covid – 19 virus. The “stay at home” order lasts until April 30.

I interpret this as something similar to a DUI checkpoint that police often set up to prevent drinking and driving. DUI checkpoints, which are random stops of vehicles primarily on weekend nights, have been ruled as constitutional as the public safety concern outweighs the 4th amendment search and seizure protections. It seems the Chicago Police are using the same reasoning behing this type of roadside stop as they don’t want people out on the road who don’t need to be.

The Governor’s order provided the following exceptions for essential travel outside of homes:

-Performing essential activities, governmental functions, business and operations

-Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons

-Receiving materials for distance learning, receiving meals and any other related services from an educational institution.

-Returning to a place of residence from outside of jurisdiction

-Following the direction of law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement

-Returning to a place of residence outside the state for non-resident

The announcement did not state how long these roadside checks would last or where exactly in the city they would set up. I’d imagine they would set up on busy roadways like Lakeshore Drive and/or busy exits on and off the Eisenhower and Kennedy.

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 312-1614-1076 or go to www.blgchicago.com

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 2020

It is 2020 and several new traffic laws took effect at the beginning of this year so we will like to first recommend the traffic lawyers Melbourne firm services. Most significantly, Scott’s Law, a traffic measure to protect police and safety workers, was provided some new tweaks. The original law, also known as the “move over law,” requires drivers to reduce speed and switch lanes to give first-responders on the side of the road more space when their hazard lights are flashing. Due to the tragic deaths of 2 Illinois State Troopers in 2019, the Illinois general assembly made the following changes to Scott’s Law:

-The minimum fine for violating Scott’s Law will increase from $100 to $250 for the first violation, and $750 for the second violation.

-Those who violate Scott’s Law and cause an injury or death will be charged with a Class 4 felony.

-The Scott’s Law Fund will be created to educate motorists on the importance of Scott’s Law. This will be funded by a $250 assessment fee for any violation of Scott’s Law.

-The Illinois Secretary of State will be required to include at least one question about Scott’s Law on the written driving test.

Below are some of the other new traffic laws:

Construction Zone (SB 1496) – Increase the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker to $25,000 (Currently $10,000).

Vehicle Code-Use of Video Devices (SB 86) – Clarifies that people cannot stream videos on a cell phone while they are driving.

Vehicle Code-Tinted Lights (SB 87) – Bans tinted headlights from being installed on cars.

Non-Highway Vehicle-55 MPH (HB 2068) – Provides that a person may operate an all-terrain vehicle or recreational off-highway vehicle on a roadway with a speed limit of 55 MPH or less (rather than 35 miles per hour or less).

Illinois Vehicle Code-School Buses (HB 1873) – Raises the mandatory fines for illegally passing a school bus from $150 to $300 for an initial violation and $500 to $1,000 for a future violation.

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

Chicago City Counsel Passes Tax On Ride-Shares

I wrote several weeks back about Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget proposal and her ideas to help reduce traffic conditions downtown. Her idea to increase taxes on ride-shares in the downtown loop area passed this week by the Chicago city counsel when they approved the 2020 budget.

Lightfoot’s office foresee’s this tax revenue will raise $40 million for the city, which will then be used to improve the busing lanes that lead in and out of downtown. The entire purpose, according to Lightfoot’s office, is an attempt to decrease congestion in the downtown loop during peak rush hours. The increased downtown fees would apply between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., when traffic is worst. The rest of the time, trips downtown would have the same fees as the rest of the city.

The combined city taxes on a solo Uber, Lyft, of Via trip that starts or ends downtown will rise from 72 cents to $3. The taxes on a shared ride downtown would rise from 72 cents per trip to $1.25 per trip.

For the purposes of the congestion tax, the boundaries of downtown would be North Avenue from Lake Shore Drive to the north branch of the Chicago River, the north branch of the Chicago River from North Avenue to Grand Avenue, Grand Avenue from the north branch of the river to Ashland Avenue, Ashland from Grand to Van Buren Street, Van Buren from Ashland to Desplaines Street, Desplaines from Van Buren to Roosevelt Road, and Roosevelt from Desplaines to Lake Shore Drive.

Both Uber and Lyft have criticized this tax as they have stated it hurts low income passengers who need the app to travel downtown. This did not deter Lightfoot or the city council as the budget passed 37 to 11.

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

Chicago Traffic Fatalities Down In 2019

There is encouraging news in Chicago traffic news. Traffic fatalities are down 30% in the city compared to this time last year. There were 108 traffic deaths through October 2018 compared to 77 so far this year.

This is good news for the city and particularly the cities’ transportation department which implemented “Vision Zero,” a plan aimed to eliminate all traffic fatalities in Chicago by 2026. Vision Zero’s plan includes changing intersections to make them safer, road user education and improving transit use in high crash areas, is an international road safety project.

The plan is also using used crash data to identify high-crash corridors and areas, which were prioritized for safety improvements. The areas include downtown Chicago and seven neighborhoods, such as Belmont-Cragin on the Northwest Side and Englewood on the South Side.

I don’t think anyone can say at this point what has caused the decrease in traffic deaths. I think we all hope that the money and time spent by Vision Zero is making our streets safer. I think a more detailed look at the data on the type and location of the traffic accidents will help us answer those questions. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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

Chicago Mayor Proposes Rideshare Tax Increase

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the city council and the media earlier this week to discuss her proposed budget. I wrote about part of her plan in my last post. As discussed, Lightfoot has earmarked $20 million towards Chicago’s department of transportation to help improve bus lines in and around downtown. The goal is to make bus trips quicker and to encourage for CTA riders, which in turn will hopefully decrease the amount of traffic congestion downtown.

Lightfoot also proposed drastic increases to rideshares that take place in the downtown loop corridor. Her reasoning is first to raise money to fill a budget gap, and also to hopefully decrease the amount of Uber and Lyft vehicles clogging the dowtown area.

Chicago Curbed provided a nice of summaary of the proposed increases: ” Across the city, single riders will pay $1.25, about 53 cents more than they do now. In a special downtown zone, single trips fees will add up to $3 which will total to $2.28 more than riders pay now. Opting for a shared trip in the downtown zone will cost riders $1.25 in fees, about 53 cents more than now. The only riders to pay less in fees, only 7 cents, are those selecting shared rides in neighborhoods outside the downtown zone. “

I understand that many local residents will be upset about this new fees should the proposal pass. But similar fees are already going on in big cities like New York and San Francisco. There is a clear traffic congestion problem downtown, which has been caused, in party, by the increase in the number of rideshare vehicles swamping the loop during rush hour. I understand Lightfoot’s reasoning hear and would not be opposed seeing this within the new budget.

If you or a loved one have 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

Chicago Aims To Combat Downtown Traffic Congestion

Multiple news outlets, including Chicago Curbed, reported last week that Chicago’s new Mayor Lori Lightfoot is looking decrease downtown traffic congestion with improvements to the CTA bus system and an overhaul of ride sharing laws.

First, the city announced a $20 million budget for the Bus Priority Zone Program. This budget aims to add additional bus-only lanes, queue jump signals, and better traffic light timing to some of Chicago’s highest ridership routes. These traffic improvements aim to remove slow zones, bottlenecks, delays, and bunched up buses that come one right after the other.

Safety improvements will make it easier to walk and bike to bus stops as well. Riders will notice new pavement markers, clearer street-level and overhead signs, safer bus stop locations with curb extensions and pedestrian refuge islands.

This is a huge step by the city’s Department of Transportation as it continues to battle ride sharing companies for ridership. The amount of congestion seen on our roads can easily pointed to the number of rideshare vehicle on the road. Commuters don’t mind paying a few extra dollars for an Uber or Lyft ride in order to avoid a packed bus that is constantly in traffic gridlock during peak rush hours. Why not attempt to improve buse rides with bus only lanes, which will then lead to a quicker commute. This will then lead to less congestion on the road which is decrases commute time and better for our environment.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago bus accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, 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