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.

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 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 Red Light Camera Violations Down Amid Coronavirus

Red light cameras have been a topic I have written about numerous times on this site. according to a personal injury lawyer the issue has been often criticized by the media and academics alike. The characters behind the contracts with the city of Chicago have been put in jail for fraud, all the while multiple studies have shown they bring almost no positive safety impact on the intersections where the lights are placed.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandamic outbreak, which led to a shelter-in-place throughout the state, the Illinois house of representatives passed a bill that would have outlawed red light cameras. That bill never had a chance to reach the Senate as the state legislature closed down like most businesses.

Regardless, red light cameras are still in effect in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Chicago Sun Times reported last week that red light camera violations are down 45% in March compared to February 2020. And compared to March 2019, red-light violations in Chicago were down 54%, numbering just 19,840 in March 2020 compared to 42,812 in March 2019. “At this time, we are seeing a nationwide trend of fewer citations overall, driven by the lower amount of traffic on the roads,” said Neil Franz, a spokesman for Conduent State & Local Solutions Inc., the vendor that operates Chicago’s red-light cameras.This is no surprise as motor vehicle traffic is way down since the shelter-in-place order took effect in mid-march. I have not seen any numbers for April yet.

As I have written multiple times in the past, I do not see any benefit of red light cameras other than a money grab for local governments. Studies have been performed by engineers and traffic experts that conclude there is no beneficial safety impact for having red light cameras in place. What is the point of having these in place if they do not make our intersections safer? I hope that when the Illinois legislature is back in session (presumably this Fall), they take up this bill again and outlaw these cameras foreever.

If you or loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury attorney, 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

Safe Driving Is More Important Than Ever

Forbes magazine published an interesting article this week stressing the importance of safe driving during these perilous times. The crux of the article was that our healthcare systems cannot possibly keep up with serious injuries and other maladies that may come to their emergency rooms due to things like car accidents. Hospitals in certain parts of the country are already working at capacity due to the coronavirus epidemic.

According to car accident attorneys, there is a high importance of safe driving during this crucial period where many areas of the country are hitting their peak of coronavirus patients. According to the Global Alliance for NGO for road safety: “Hospitals and emergency services cannot manage road crash victims as they struggle to cope with the pandemic and governments are working hard to contain the virus.”

This means that if you must get into your car, put your phone down and focus on the road. And more importantly, do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking. According to an auto accident attorney it is incredibly important to be vigilant while driving and to try your best to avoid traffic accidents if you have to take your car out.

The article also pointed out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(“NHTSA”) has cancelled many of their annual traffic safety programs due to the coronavirus including Heat Stroke Awareness, Click It or Ticket, and Distracted Driving campaigns.  They are also postponing National Distracted Driving Awareness month from April to another month later this year. Regardless, I think it is critical that we all take extra precautions when we go out for a drive so that we can help soften the load for our first responders, emergency workers, doctors and nurses. They need our help more than ever and that starts by staying home or, at the very least, being careful behind the wheel.

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

Are Red Light Cameras Finally Coming To An End In Illinois?

Over the past several years I have written numerous posts about the viability, corruption and safety concerns of red light cameras in and around Chicago. The red light cameras have been scrutinized by the press and scientific communities questioning whether they actually make intersections safer. In fact, a study by Texas A&M and the Chicago Tribune concluded that there was a net zero impact on the red light cameras in Chicago. This led many to conclude that the cameras were merely a money grab by the city.

Due recent corruption charges to various Cook County politicians, we may finally see a roll-back and possible elimination of red light cameras in Illinois. Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski resigned from his position within the County and also his position as mayor of suburbon McCook. hicago Department of Aviation and former top Illinois Department of Transportation official, Bill Helm, was charged with one count of bribery. Both of these individuals apparently have ties to State Senator Martin Sandoval, who plead guilty to charges that he took $250,000 in bribes from SafeSpeed LLC. as the red-light traffic camera company’s protector in the Senate and to help ensure the company was able to install red-light traffic cameras in Chicago suburbs.

The Illinois Legislature has had enough of the corruption and have recently passed bills that would cut down on the use of red light cameras, and possibly completely ban them. House Bill 322 was approved 84-4. non-home-rule communities would not be allowed to install the cameras in the future and would be required to remove any currently operational cameras by the beginning of 2021. That means 45 of the 101 communities in the state with red-light cameras would be forced to remove them.

Senate Bill 2902, if passed, would eliminate red light cameras in entirely throughout the state of Illinois. This is the bill I would like to see passed. I am not sure where Governor Pritzker stands on these bills. Based on the past corruption and the questionable viability as a safety measure, I do no see how these cameras are still allowed to be used in this state. I hope our lawmakers do the right thing.

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.

Chicago May Lightfoot Introduced New Parking Ticket Ordinance

According to various news outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced a new city ordinance aimed at cracking down on drivers that are blocking bus and bike lanes.

If passed, the new law would allow parking enforcement aides to take a picture of a motorist parked in a bus or bicycle lane and mail the violation to the address of the license plate holder. The fines will range from $60 to $150. Currently, the ticket can only be issued if the vehicle is parked in a bus lane or bike lane. If someone drives off to avoid the ticket — even while a citation is being written — the parking enforcement aide is out of luck.

According to Mayor Lightfoots office, the purpose of the law to help decrease traffic congestion in the downtown loop. We already know that this has been a major focus for her office as she passed sweeping changes to downtown traffic laws in her most recent city budget. These changes included rate hikes for ride share companies in the downtown area and during peak rush hour time periods.

I applaud this new law as it aims to protect public transportation and bicyclists in the city. The whole purpose of designating lanes for buses and bicyclists is to encourage more people to use public transportation and to make life safer for bicyclists. How can that mission be protected if motorists continue to ignore the laws by blocking these lanes? I will be following this closely to see if the city council passes this proposed law.

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

Illinois Legislator Wants To Increase Speed Limits

Illinois State Senator, Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, has introduced two (2) bills that would increase the speed limit on Illinois interstates and highways. Senate Bill 2565 would raise the speed limit to 75 mph on interstates outside urban areas. Senate Bill 2564 would increase the speed limit on highways outside urban areas to a maximum of 60 mph from 55 mph.

These bills have faced opposition from safety groups and insurance companies, including AAA.

The Institute for Highway Safety found there is an 8% increase in fatal traffic accidents for every 5 mph increase in the speed limit. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says speed is a factor in 39% of fatal crashes in Illinois. The national average is 28%. The American Automobile Association, or AAA is opposing the bill releasing the following statement to the media: “This would be a dangerous step in the wrong direction, putting Illinois’ recent gains in traffic safety into serious jeopardy.”

These bills were assigned to the Transportation Committee last month. The bills cannot be voted on until they pass through committee approval before being voted on by the Senate or House. I have not seen any news recently that these bills will voted on or that there is a push to have these measures passed.

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

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.