April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The Illinois State Police are are partnering with over 200 law enforcement agencies around the state this month to promote traffic safety and bring awareness to distracted driving. April is distracted driving awareness month around the country, and the Illinois State Police’s initiative this year is called “drop it and drive.” That is, put down your phone and focus on the road.

he 200 law enforcement agencies will be doing nothing but focusing on distracted driving. These special officer details that will on a grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”).

According to a personal injury lawyer, around 26,000 people died in U.S. crashes involving a distracted driver between 2012 and 2019. That is an incredible number, which has continued to rise since the advent of the smart phone. I will be interested to see what the number of tickets issued are during the month of April and whether this special initiative will actually decrease the number of distracted driving traffic accidents.

Everyone who has a smart phone knows how tempting it is to pick up your phone while in traffic to check an email or a text. Even a few seconds of looking into your phone can be incredibly dangerous. Along with the Illinois State Police, we encourage you to avoid that temptation and put your phone away while driving.

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.

Illinois Comptroller To Postpone Due Date For Traffic Fines

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced this week that her office will not be deducting past due traffic and parking fines and costs from the tax returns of the poor and moderately income residents. The office of the comptroller has the power to collect past due traffic and parking fees from residents’ tax returns. Her office announced the following: “The Illinois Office of Comptroller will not be deducting any fines or fees from the tax returns of Illinois’ working poor this year…Low- and moderate-income taxpayers in Illinois, who qualify for the state-earned income tax credit will receive their entire tax refund this year.”

It must be pointed out that the $15 million that is past due is not being forgiven. Payment will instead be due next year. The office also pointed out that the grace period could be extended if there is not a significant economic recovery due to the pandemic. This is no doubt a huge relief for many Chicagoans and residents around the state of Illinois who have been hit hard economically the covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully this will provide many with some financial breathing room.

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

Chicago Ranked 3rd Most Congested City In U.S.

According to a new traffic study by INRIX, a private company that that analyzes traffic data and trends, has ranked Chicago the 3rd most congested U.S. city behind New York and Philadelphia. This is somewhat surprising news to those of us that have witness such light traffic around the city since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.

There’s more bad news.. The study found that the inbound Interstate 290/294 to Interstate 90/94 interchange in downtown Chicago is the number 1 ranked most congested corridor in the country. That should come as no surprise due to the history of this interchange and the construction in that are over the last few years.

Finally, Chicago was ranked the 7th most congested city in world.

This is troubling news, and locals have to wonder is whether there will be any improvement. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously made changes to the city budget to improve and increase bike lanes and improve the bus lanes travelling in and out of downtown. The purpose was to hopefully decrease the number of rideshare vehicles. Unfortunately, those changes have improved Chicago’s ranking as a traffic congested city. We can only hope those changes slowly improve.

The other change that I hope will improve congestion will the completion of construction at the I-90/94 and I-290 interchange. Construction has closed exit lanes and made the traffic much worse. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. I guess we will have to wait to see if that will bring improvements to the traffic congestion.

If you or a loved one have 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 Traffic Deaths Up In 2020 Despite Pandemic Lockdown

2020 saw most people staying home and away from the roads for most of the year due to the pandemic lockdown. Despite the decrase in traffic throughout the state, 2020 saw the most Illinois traffic fatalities since 2020.

According to the Chicago Trubune, 1,166 people died in car crashes in 2020, which is highest number reported since 2007 and about 16 percent higher than the previous year. If a loved one unfortunately passes away in a car crash, you can always get help from a funeral home so they can plan the funeral while you and your family have time to grieve.

According to Top Driver, one of the country’s largest driving schools, most of Illinois’ traffic deaths do not occur on interstate highways but rather on city streets.. As of July, about a quarter of traffic fatalities involved pedestrians. About the same number more involved unlicensed drivers. And more than a third involved drivers who were not wearing their seatbelts.

If there is less traffic on the roads how in the world did we see such a sharp increase in deaths? According to Top Driver’s website, it has to do with increased driving speeds: “There is something to be said about traffic congestion — it helps maintain or decrease speed..”Decreased traffic has given Illinois drivers a false sense of security. Drivers perceive the open roads to be safe and think increased speed is okay, but this isn’t the case. If it were, we wouldn’t see an increase in fatalities. Before you embark upon your next cross country trip or even just a short commute to work, slow down and remain self-aware. Due diligence and proactive driving can not only keep you safe, but also allow healthcare workers to focus on treating ill patients instead of a preventable car crash.”

Just because the roads are open that does not mean Illinois drivers should treat the streets (or highways) like the autobahn. Nor should drivers feel like it’s ok to pick up their phones when behind the wheel.

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

Illinois’ “Scott’s Law” Turns 18

“Scott’s Law,” enacted in Illinois in 2002, is aimed to protect first responders working in traffic and on roadways. The Law was named in honor of Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by a
drunk driver while assisting at a crash on a Chicago
Expressway.

The law specifically applies to drivers who approach a stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing warning lights. The law requires that Illinois motorists must:

• Slow down;
• Drive with caution; and
• Move over to another lane. Reduce speed if changing
lanes is unsafe.

Illinois Motorists who enter a highway construction are must:
• Slow down;
• Discontinue wireless use; and
• Yield or change lanes away from any authorized vehicles
or workers in the area.

If you violate Scotts law and injure a first responder or worker you can face a $10,000.00 fine and spend time in prison.

Despite the law there have been record breaking violations in recent years. Illinois nearly hit a record high in Scott’s Law car crashes in 2019, with 26 crashes. Illinois State Police have addressed the media due to the recent number of violations. In 2020, District One, which covers Lee, Ogle, Whiteside and Carroll counties saw 48 violations. Illinois State Police are urging drivers who see first responders on roadways to remain alert, slow down, and move over.

This seems like common sense. You see an ambulance, police car or fire truck with their sirens on, you immediately pull over. Or if you are on a highway, you slow down and switch to the furthest lane. It’s unclear why drivers continue to violate the law and continue to injure police and first responders with their vehicles. Is it because of phone? Are people not paying attention. None of the media or research I have read indicates whether these are the causes. Regardless, I think there needs to be a public service push to let Illinois drivers know this is still the law, there a life and death consequences and that you could end up in jail.

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

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.

New Illinois Traffic Laws For 2020 and 2021

The Illinois legislature passed and the governor signed into law two (2) important new traffic laws in 2020 that went into effect in 2020. I will also discuss a local Chicago ordinance that went into effect in the new year.

First, as I have been writing about on this blog for years, the Illinois legislature finally stiffened the texting and driving penalties when the accident causes serious injury to another party. Beginning on July 1, 2020 the Illinois secretary of state was enabled to revoke driving privileges for one year when a driver causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement” due to use of an electronic communication device. The offense is also subject to a minimum $1,000 fine. Electronic communication devices include hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or portable or mobile computer. It does not include a GPS or a device that is electronically integrated into the vehicle. 

Second, stronger penalties were enacted for drivers who injured a pedestrian while walking in a cross-walk. This new law establishes a 12-month license suspension for a motorist who, while violating the right-of-way at crosswalks and in school zones, causes serious injury to another person. This law also went into effect on July 1, 2020.

Finally, as I discussed a few months back, part of the city of Chicago’s 2021 budget included increased fines for drivers caught on speeder cameras driving 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The plan states those driving six miles per hour over posted speed limits would get a warning. If a driver is caught twice, they would then receive a $35 ticket in the mail.   This new ordinance took effect in 2021.

If you or a loved one have been has been seriously injured in a Chicago truck crash or Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal 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.