February 20, 2015

American Trucking Industry Reports Decline in Truck Accident Fatalities to Congress

by Levin & Perconti

As our regular readers know, trucking accidents are serious matters, often causing serious personal injuries and deaths due to the weight and speed of the vehicles involved. In recent years, truck driver fatigue has been in the spotlight as a major cause of accidents that could have been prevented. Due to tight deadlines and rigorous work schedules imposed by trucking companies, drivers are often forced to drive for too many hours straight, which can cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel. It is difficult for the trucking industry to regulate itself because the industry’s interests lie with both the truckers, who are often pushed to their physical limits to complete jobs, and the companies, who focus on profit, so it is important that lawmakers take a tough stance on such negligence to improve the safety of our roads.

In recent good news reported by Trucking News Online, the American Trucking Association told Congress’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee that safety investments are working. They relayed that they are proud of the difference that $7 billion in safety-related investments have made in reducing crashes and fatalities on the nation’s highways in the trucking industry. After the safety investments, large truck-related fatalities have dropped 21 percent and the large truck fatality rate has dropped 37 percent. Industry leaders have cited voluntary measures like crash prevention technology and lane departure devices as reasons for the decline.

According to the same article, these industry leaders have also called on the federal government to continue to focus on truck accidents to maintain the safety and continue to grow it. Among their proposals is to advance a rule requiring the use of speed limiters on large trucks. Additionally, they argue that focusing on on-road traffic enforcement and driver behavior will be effective. They also ask for timely publication of a strong and appropriate mandate for electronic logging devices and to monitor studies surrounding hours-of-service rules.

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February 16, 2015

NTSB Examines Chicago Crash that Took the Life of a Tollway Worker

by Levin & Perconti

Last January, our lawyers were shocked and saddened by news that an Illinois toll way worker’s life was needlessly ended as the result of an accident involving a fatigued truck driver. A state trooper was assisting a tollway worker in the right-hand lane of eastbound I-88 near Eola Road when another semi went off the road and crashed into them, causing a fire that engulfed the two individuals. The trooper suffered serious injuries and the tollway worker died as a result of this crash.

Now, the National Transit Safety Board has issued its preliminary findings about the suburban crash, reported in a recent article by the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the report, the tollway worker was the first Illinois Tollway employee killed on the job since 2003. Senator Durbin originally called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to investigate the accident to determine if the driver and his employer violated rules limiting the number of hours a driver can be on the road and to take steps ensuring every trucking company complies with the law. . The driver was charged with four felony counts of operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired or fatigued, making a false report of a record and duty status, and driving beyond the 14- and 11-hour rules.

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February 13, 2015

Authorities Investigate I-55 Multi-Vehicle Crash

by Levin & Perconti

While winter weather may be picturesque when sitting in the comforts and warmth of our own homes, it causes extremely dangerous conditions on our roadways. Drivers, especially when on busy roads like interstates, face many dangers during wintertime in Illinois. Snow can cause decreased visibility and slippery surfaces, and often leads to severe weather-related collisions.

A recent article by The Herald-News reported that a multiple vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 55 near Gardner. One of the individuals involved explained how he was looking out his passenger-side window to observe the semitrailer passing him on the right and then couldn’t see anything at all. Winter weather conditions created repeated areas of whiteouts on the roads. The individual also witnessed a semi-truck flip over on its side and skid along the road. His car was hit several times, but it was not safe to get out of the car to check on damage; behind them was a long chain of cars. According to the report this witness’ vehicle was the fourth or fifth car involved in a chain-reaction multiple vehicle crash. When the chain reaction occurred, cars then began in a domino-like fashion veering left and right off into ditches, which continued down the line of cars for some way.

The Illinois State Police has reported that at least 16 vehicles were involved in the accident, including a FedEx semitrailer. The chain reaction collision occurred at mile post 227 on I-55 south. The accident was so large that emergency responders were called in from several area municipalities. Several victims suffered serious and life-threatening injuries. One individual needed extraction from his vehicle. Emergency responders arrived to attend to 10 vehicles, but within minutes the chain reaction increased in number due to the low visibility conditions. Due to the conditions and the large number of vehicles involved, cars kept swerving into ditches to avoid the cluster of crashed cars already on the road, which then caused the number in the accident to continue to increase in number. The accident is still under investigation by authorities.

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February 9, 2015

National Transit Safety Board Turns Focus to Safety of Rail Tank Cars and Commercial Trucking

by Levin & Perconti

It is known that the railroad and trucking industries come with many inherent dangers, but that such dangers can be mitigated and prevented through proper attention to and dedication to safety. Where federal regulations are in place that companies and operators must abide by, accidents and dangers can be prevented.

In a recent article by Government Security News Magazine, the National Transit Safety Board has recognized common dangers that have been increasingly present in rail tank cars and commercial trucking accidents. That is why these issues have been included in the Board’s focus for the remainder of 2015. They have identified areas for needed safety improvements, including requiring that transportation operators be medically fit for duty, strengthening commercial trucking safety, and requiring pilots to strengthen procedural compliance. Among such issues are distraction and impairment. The article relays that in 20102 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration every 1 in 10 drivers in fatal crashes was distracted. In almost a third of fatal crashes, a driver was under the influence of alcohol and impaired.

Our lawyers understand that truck accidents are unfortunately all too common. Illinois is a major hub for trucking and train transportation so these announcements are relevant to us. With its central location and large metropolitan area, there are many trucks going on routes in and out of the Chicago area as part of the interstate commerce that goes on throughout the country. With a high frequency of truck stops, truck accidents are also in high frequency, especially when drivers are negligent and do not act with the care and diligence required in long routes. Crashes can commonly involve distracted drivers, intoxicated drivers, sleep-deprived drivers, overloaded or unsafe trucks, hit-and-runs, rear-end collisions, and rollovers.

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February 2, 2015

Truck Accident Resulting In Ramen Noodle Spill Shuts Down I-95

by Levin & Perconti

Trucks are extremely important modes of transportation for commerce throughout the country. Fleets of trucks are employed by companies to transport goods across long distances. What we might not consider though, is that when these trucks are traveling long distances and at high speeds on our highways and interstates, an accident can cause quite a bit of damage and mess and require serious clean-up to make the roads useable and safe again. Not only are trucks large vehicles that are massive in size and can cause serious damage and the potential for injuries when involved in a truck accident, but spilled cargo can complicate things, too.

According to one recent article by ABC, a truck accident caused a large spill of ramen noodles that blocked off Interstate 95. According to the highway patrol, a driver of a tractor-trailer fell asleep at the wheel and crashed, spilling the cargo of the truck across the road. The driver was quoted as saying how he thought he would be able to make it to a truck stop, but ended up dozing off, and the next thing he knew he had taken out the guard rail on the road. The truck hit a bridge and then broke apart, splitting in half. Thankfully, no one was injured in this accident.

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January 16, 2015

Winter Weather Conditions Cause Highway Truck Accidents in Champaign County

by Levin & Perconti

Illinois is known for its serious winters. This is not just limited to Chicago though. All throughout the state winter weather can affect communities making roads much more hazardous as the snow falls and temperatures drop. It is no surprise that winter weather makes driving conditions much more dangerous. That is why it is imperative to use caution when driving in such weather. When drivers are negligent to their duty to be safe drivers, they can cause a motor vehicle accident that results in personal injuries to themselves and others on the road.

According to one recent article by the News-Gazette, winter weather caused a number of truck accidents in central Illinois. According to the article, Illinois State Police were on the scenes of multiple crashes that resulted in personal injuries and lane blockages on Interstate 57 in Champaign and Douglas Counties and on Interstate 74 in Mahomet. Authorities also relayed that the highest concentration of slide offs and accidents were between Tuscola at milepost 212 and Champaign at milepost 237, and on I-74 near Mahomet. At milepost 217 southbound, there was a jack-knifed truck tractor-semi trailer and another crash on I-57 at milepost 220. Recent freezing rain covered the roads with ice, and made driving conditions both difficult and dangerous.

As with any major weather event, authorities warned motorists to use caution when traveling on the interstates. In snowy or icy conditions, it is important to avoid unnecessary lane changes, which often cause a loss of control of a vehicle and use caution when traveling near the scene of an accident so as to not cause additional accidents and to keep those involved in the accident as safe as possible. Vehicles need to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles at these scenes.

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January 15, 2015

123-Vehicle Pileup Occurs on Midwestern Interstate

by Levin & Perconti

We have frequently discussed how truck accidents are extremely dangerous. Trucks are very large vehicles that are immense in height, length, and weight. Due to these factors, a collision with one can cause serious damage, especially when traveling at high speeds on highways and interstates. However, combine these factors with winter weather conditions and a large number of vehicles, and the accident can be even more extreme.

While we unfortunately frequently hear of truck accidents, it is rare to hear of an accidents involving tens or even hundreds of vehicles.. However, in recent news by the Chicago Tribune, one recent Midwest accident involved a pile-up of 123 vehicles.
According to the article, 123 vehicles were involved in pileups along the snowy Interstate 94. As a result of the accident, one truck driver died. The accident ignited a fire and an explosion on a semi-truck that was carrying fireworks. Police have discussed that there was snow, wind, and poor visibility at the time of travel. Police then urged everyone within a 3-mile radius to evacuate the area due to the hazardous materials. People were not allowed to return until the hazardous materials, including acid, had burned off. In addition to a death of a truck driver, 23 people suffered personal injuries and required hospitalization. Other motorists who did not suffer serious injuries needed to be transported by bus to a warming center.

The article relayed accounts from several people on the scene. One driver, who was driving behind the truck with the fireworks, had to slam on his brakes, which resulted in him skidding. He stopped his pickup truck on the shoulder of the road and knew he needed to run away from the scene on foot. He said how he saw all of these trucks approaching and knew they wouldn’t stop. He left his truck and ran through the trees to get away from the danger. Another driver described how his Jeep became sandwiched in the front and rear. He then heard fireworks begin to explode and also ran away.

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January 9, 2015

Highway 141 Crash Takes the Life of an Illinois Woman

by Levin & Perconti

Curled up inside on the couch, sipping hot cocoa and watching the snow fall outside your window may be really relaxing, but the snow can invoke feelings far from relaxation when you’re dealing with it on the roads and highways. While snow may be pretty and picturesque when we are safe and inside, it is a completely different story when it is making your commute and travels hazardous. Frequently, snow is a cause of truck and motor vehicle accidents. By highlighting winter weather-related accidents in our blogs, we hope to bring awareness to our readers about the dangers winter weather conditions can pose on the roads.

A report by MyFox11 relayed that a woman died as the result of a truck crash on Highway 141 near Jossart Road. A pickup truck was hauling a snowmobile trailer northbound when the driver of the truck swerved to avoid a dark object in the roadway. The victim was then struck by the trailer. The driver died at the scene of the accident from head and internal injuries. Snow was also falling and covering the roadway at the time of the accident. The Marinette County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this crash.

There are many steps we can take as drivers to protect ourselves and others when on snowy and icy roads. Weather Underground provides tips for both car maintenance and driving safety to ensure that you are most prepared for your snowy drive. It is important to make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive in winter weather. For example, you should be sure to check your anti-freeze and thermostat to avoid freezing. Make sure your windshield wiper blades are operable and that you have de-icing washing fluid. Also, check on your oil and power steering fluids. Be sure to properly lubricate door locks that may be prone to freezing. Remember to keep at least half of a tank of gas in your vehicle during the winter season too, because this prevents freezing.

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January 7, 2015

Truck Accident Caused by Icy Road Conditions

by Levin & Perconti

Winter weather has definitely arrived in Illinois. We may have not had a white Christmas, but now snow can be seen throughout much of the state, and the cold temperatures have come with it. However, with winter weather comes more hazards on the roadways. Snow and ice make the roads more dangerous by causing slippery and wet surfaces, so it is imperative that drivers take extra caution in these conditions. Otherwise, serious accidents can occur.

According to one article by the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, icy road conditions recently caused a truck accident near the southern exit in Mattoon on Interstate 57. A pickup truck struck a guardrail and overturned. According to Illinois State Police, the driver lost control of his truck after hitting a patch of black ice on the bridge deck. The truck then crossed the center median, hit the guardrail, and overturned.

Black ice is a significant hazard present during the cold temperatures in winter. One of the biggest dangers of black ice, according to AccuWeather, is that it is not only slippery but hard to spot. Black ice gets its name from its ability to blend in; it tends to look like the rest of the pavement on the road because it is clear. Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, creating ice. Additionally, sleet and the refreezing after melt of snow or water can also create black ice. The prime times for the development of black ice are around dawn and in late evening. This is when temperatures tend to be their lowest. Additionally, the most common locations for black ice to form are shaded or tree-covered parts of roads due to the lack of light, and on bridges and overpasses because of the ability for water to freeze quickly in these locations.

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December 30, 2014

UPS Driver Hits Pedestrian in Evanston Accident

by Levin & Perconti

With the holiday season just wrapping up, our postal and delivery workers have been especially busy. A significant amount of packages are delivered this time of year, and these workers may be working much longer hours than normal or working much more frequently. Since a major facet of the postal services, both government and private, is to make deliveries to residences, these workers are on the road in great frequency during the holiday season. However, even though this season may be more stressful for these employees and require more work, this does not mean that the drivers should be more lax in their driving. Just like all drivers on the road, it is the legal duty of these individuals to practice safe driving when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

According to a recent report by CBS, a United Parcel Service driver hit a pedestrian in Evanston. The pedestrian was walking across Ashland Avenue in the early evening and was struck by the UPS truck that had just turned onto the street. According to Evanston police, the pedestrian had to be extricated from beneath the truck. The individual was then transported to Evanston-NorthShore University Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The accident is still under investigation.

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December 26, 2014

Truck Driver Road Rage Incident Puts People in Fear For Their Lives

by Levin & Perconti

One unfortunate trend that is frequently in news reports and throughout the media is road rage. The way we react to others on the road impacts the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and the others on the road to whom we owe a legal duty of care. As we’ve discussed before, as drivers, every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, we are responsible for our behavior. It is our legal duty to not be the cause of injury to others, and we need to act as safe drivers, not with negligence or recklessness.

According to a recent report by ABC 7 Chicago, one incident of road rage was so extreme that two people were placed in a situation where they feared for their lives. The incident was caught on cellphone video while two women were driving on Interstate 80, and a pickup truck driver cut them off. One of the women admits that she gave the driver “the finger” after being cut off. However, she didn’t expect that driver would then lose her cool to the extreme that was caught on camera. After receiving that gesture, the truck driver began to swerve across the highway and then slammed on her brakes in order to get the two women in the vehicle to stop. The truck driver then got out of her truck, approached the two women in the car, and claimed she was a police officer. They did not believe her and called 911 to confirm she was not an officer. They took off driving again, but the truck driver began to follow them, attempting to push them off the road by hitting their car. They called 911 and were instructed to take the next exit where an officer would be waiting. Police then tracked down the pickup truck driver and arrested her based on assault with a deadly weapon. She had just been released from jail a few hours earlier based on felony hit-and-run charges.

It seems that these two women took the right step in protecting themselves and preventing this driver from harming others. Not only did they capture it on video in a way to identify the driver, but they also immediately called the police. By doing so, the police could respond quickly and apprehend the dangerous driver.

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December 19, 2014

Morris Man Killed in I-55 Semi-Truck Accident

by Levin & Perconti

It seems that a truck accident involving injuries occurs almost every week in Illinois. Unfortunately, the most devastating accidents often take the life of the victims in the collision or result in very serious injury. This was the case earlier this week when aa young person died in an accident with a tractor trailer.

The Morris Daily Herald, reported that the 19-year-old man died when he swerved off of I-55 in the Channahon Township after his vehicle was cut off by a semitrailer, according to the Illinois State Police. He was driving in his pickup truck in the left lane when the semi switched lanes and cut him off. The victim then swerved to avoid hitting the semi and his vehicle rolled over several times in the median ditch and then came to a rest in the southbound lanes near the Route 6 interchange. In the process of the rollover, the victim was ejected from his vehicle. The driver of the semi continued on his way and did not stop during this incident. He has still not been identified. Unfortunately, the victim was also not wearing his seatbelt.

Although a semi-truck driver’s reckless actions and failure to be vigilant for others on the road resulted in the victim needed to make an emergency swerve to avoid collision, it is also important to discuss how seat belts can protect us during these emergency situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a leading cause of death for those aged 1 – 54 in the United States. More than 2.2 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency rooms from motor vehicle accidents in 2012 alone. Seat belt use is the most effective way to prevent death and reduce injury in a crash, and actually reduces serious injuries and deaths by half, but millions of people do not wear their seat belts. Teens and young adults wear their seat belts much less often than others. Of the crash victims aged 13 – 20 in 2012, 55% of them were not wearing seat belts. Those ages 13 – 34 are less likely to wear seat belts than those 35 and older too. Furthermore, those in rural areas, such as Channahon, are less 10% less likely to wear seat belts than those in urban and suburban areas.

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