Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Release 2021 Report

Traffic safety advocacy group, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, released their 2021 report called the “Road Map.” The report analyzes traffic safety and traffic safety laws in all 50 states.

There were less people on the road in 2020 but according to the report, that did not lead to safer streets and highways. “Moreover, preliminary 2020 estimates show that while overall miles traveled are down, the fatality rate has jumped dramatically,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The group gave Illinois a grade of yellow, which means safety improvements are needed. Below is a list of recommendations the group provided to the state:

  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • Booster Seat Law
  • GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction Provision
  • GDL- Stronger Passenger Restriction Provision
  • GDL- Age 18 for Unrestricted License

Below is a list of laws the group believes Illinois is doing correctly:

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • GDL – 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
  • GDL – Cell Phone Restriction
  • IID for All Offenders
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law

One suggestion they did not provide was for stricter texting and driving laws and penalties. As I discussed on this site last week, the Illinois legislature has done their part of strengthening traffic penalties for caught texting and driving during an accident. I will be watching the state legislature closely over the next year to see if they implement any of the suggestions made by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car 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 Strikes Down Police Agency Ticket Quota Program

In POLICEMEN’S BENEVOLENT LABOR COMMITTEE, Appellee, v. THE CITY OF SPARTA, 2020 IL 125508, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the town of Sparta’s traffic ticket program for its’ police officers. The Sparta police department’s union sued over the city’s activity-points policy used for evaluating the performance of its police officers. The policy required all full-time officers to meet a monthly point minimum, based on actions that include issuing citations, making traffic stop warnings and taking on extra duty assignments.

The case was originally heard by the 5th district appellate court, which struck down the policy. The case was then appealed to the state supreme court, which upheld the 5th district’s opinion that the quota policy violated Illinois law. The law, undert the Illinois Municipal Code, that the police union argued was being violated states: ““A municipality may not require a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time … A municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a police officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations issued by the police officer to the number of citations issued by any other police officer who has similar job duties.”

In the lawsuit, the city of Sparta argued that the policy did not violate the law because it does not mandate officers to write a specific number of citations during a certain period of time, and that officers could meet the monthly minimum without writing any citations.

The supreme cout disagreed stating in the opinion: ““The (Illinois Municipal Code), as it is currently written, expressly prohibits that practice, and the (code) must be enforced as written.” 

We will see if the city of Sparta and/or other police departments go back to the state legislature to lobby for a change in municipal code.

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.

Annual Highway Report Ranks Illinois Roads 37th

According to the 2020 “Annual Highway Report” prepared by the Reason Foundation, Illinois’ roads ranked as the 37th worst in the country. The study factors pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending per mile. Illinois ranks 32nd in structurally deficient bridges, 32nd in urban interstate pavement condition, and 42nd in capital and bridge costs per mile. Its worst category performance was traffic congestion, ranking 49th.

The only category that doesn’t surprise me is that Illinois ranks 49th in traffic congestion. That is easy to see for someone who lives in the Chicago area as we see traffic jams on our highways in and around the city everyday and just about all hours. Let’s hope that the completion of the 290/94 interchange construction will relieve some of that congestion.

Fortunately Illinois ranks fairly high regarding traffic safety. The state ranks 15th in overall fatality rate, 16th in rural fatality rate, and 22nd in urban fatality rate.

Let’s hope that the safety continues to improve and that the state can improve when it comes to categories like congestion and pavement conditions.

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.

NHTSA Orders GM To Recall 5.9 Million Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced this week that General Motors is to recall up to 5.9 vehicles due to a defect in the Takata airbags in many of their lines of vehicles.

The NHTSA states that GM must recall their 2007-2014 model year trucks and SUVs because the inflators in the airbags “are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators.”

The defect, which leads in rare instances to air bag inflators rupturing and sending potentially deadly metal fragments flying, prompted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history of about 63 million inflators. Worldwide, about 100 million inflators by 19 major automakers were recalled. The vehicles in the recall includes some Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon vehicles built over an eight-year period.

GM has denied that the airbags are defective and that the do not pose a risk drivers. Regardless, they have stated they will comply and make the necessary changes.

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

DuPage County Closes Traffic Courts Through End Of Year

Covid-19 cases are rising at a dramatic pace in Illinois. We have seen a steep rise in the number of cases and in the positivity rate throughout the state. The DuPage County Chief Judge Daniel Guerin announced that they are taking steps to stop the spread of the virus by shutting down its’ traffic courts through December 31, 2020. The Chief Judge released the following regarding the shutdown: “In order to protect the health and safety of court employees and the general public, we decided that continuing traffic matters through the end of this year was the responsible and prudent step to take in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The Downers Grove satellite court room and the two court rooms at the main courthouse in Wheaton. Cases will be rescheduled to dates at least 28 business days from their current dates. The court clerk will send notices via mail.

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

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.

Illinois Traffic Accidents and Congestion Increasing Despite Covid-19 Shutdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every industry, the public sector and pretty much all aspects of our lives. When the pandemic started and the shelter in place order was announced by Governor JB Pritzker, traffic congestion and car accidents decreased dramatically.

The state slowly began opening back up again and traffic levels have increased in Chicago and throughout the state. They are still not and pre-pandemic levels, but as you drive around the city you are seeing much more congestion and the numbers back it up, which has been the reason for more car accidents, according to a car accident doctor.

Despit the record low levels of traffic from March through May, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) has reported 786 fatalities in vehicle crashes, a 16-person increase from 770 on Oct. 11, 2019.

This is an unusual trend that IDOT spokeswoman, Maria Castaneda, tried to explain recently: “While we can’t speculate and don’t know all the reasons why the overall numbers are aligning from last year with fewer cars on the roads, anecdotally we have noticed an increase in higher speeds,” C

Illinois State Police Sgt. Christopher Wilson added, “it is extremely difficult to make assumptions as to traffic trends, and even more difficult in these unprecedented times as we have no frame of reference to compare.”

So we are seeing more traffic on the road but not nearly as much as last year, yet Illinois traffic fatalities are at a higher rate than a year ago. According to a car accident lawyer, motorists are driving faster than normal, and are thus putting themselves in a much more dangerous situations. I would like to see more analysis than what IDOT has provided so we can understand why accidents, including deaths, have not gone down despite less traffic on the road. Do these accidents involve distracted drivers or texting and driving? If your car was severely damaged, are you in need of panel beaters? Was weather a factor? Driving too fast. Hopefully IDOT will provide us with a better understanding by the end of the year.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076 or contact us through our website at www.blgchicago.com.

Teen Driving Deaths Down Drastically In Illinois

According to Illinois Secretary of State, teen traffic fatalities have decreased by 74% since 2007. According to data recently released to the media, there were 41 Illinois teen traffic deaths in 2019 and 48 in 2018. This is compared to 155 in 2007.

Why are they comparing the last two years to 2007? Well, in 2008 Illinois introduced the “graduated driver license” or the GDL, which includes three phases. The first phase is the “permit phase” for 15-year olds, followed by the “initial licensing phase” for 16-17 year olds. Then comes the final “full licensing phase” for those 18-20.

Here is what Illinois Secretary of State had to say about GDLs and the improved numbers: “The goal has always been to save lives. While our graduated driver licensing (GDL) program is working as intended with teen driving deaths decreasing, there is still more work to be done. My hope is that with hard work and continued open communication between my office, teens, parents and driver education teachers, teen fatalities will continue to decline.”

I am impressed by these numbers. The main reason is that the year this law went into effect, was the same time period the I-phone was introduced, which was the same time that the distracted driving epidemic began. We have to give the Illinois legislature and the Secretary of State’s office their credit as this GDL program seems to be working as slowly prepares young people with the training, skill and confidence to drive safely. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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.

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.

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