Articles Posted in Current Issues

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Distracted driving occurs when a person is driving a motor vehicle while, at the same time, engaged in an activity that could take the his or her eyes off of the road. Distracted driving, or inattentive driving, is a very common cause of accidents. This is especially true nowadays with drivers looking down at their cell phones. Tractor-trailer drivers can occasionally get distracted, or become inattentive, too. This has the potential of resulting in serious and even fatal accidents.

About one week ago, in mid October 2016, a male tractor-trailer driver was headed north on Interstate 55 near Springfield, Illinois. Illinois State Police reported that an incident earlier that day caused traffic to slow. The tractor-trailer driver was inattentive and did not notice that the traffic ahead of him was traveling slowly. He realized this seconds before impact and attempted to jerk her truck to the side to avoid a collision; he did not prevail in his attempt. His tractor-trailer hit another tractor-trailer and then rolled onto its side in a ditch.  

If you are injured from a tractor-trailer-related accident, it is important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

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As you may know, automobile accidents are among the main causes of personal injury and fatalities. In attempt to cut back in auto accidents, various companies are experimenting with automated vehicles. Recent studies show that automated vehicles could safe up to 300,000 lives every decade here in the United States. A report produced by Google shows that automated vehicles are potentially one of the best things to happen to public health during this century.

Another report emphasizes that auto accidents significantly impact our economy. In 2012, auto accidents in the United States cost our economy $212 billion. This report goes on to say that automated vehicles can potentially decrease the auto accident rate by 90 percent. So, automated vehicles can save the United States about $190 billion!

Well, what about Automated Tractor-Trailers?

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Tractor-trailers are the largest, and most powerful, vehicles on the road. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that tractor-trailers weigh up to 30 times more than passenger vehicles, leaving passenger vehicles extremely vulnerable to these beasts. Taking into account the power behind these machines, if you are involved in an accident with one, it is likely that you will suffer severe injury, or even death!

What is frightening is that an alarming number of tractor-trailer drivers engage in certain behavior, while driving, that increases the possibility of having auto accidents. Earlier this week, in O’Fallon, Illinois, a tractor-trailer driver and his female passenger got into an argument. According to O’Fallon Illinois police, this argument led to a multi-vehicle crash. One person, an innocent motorist, died from this accident. This accident occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Route 50 eastbound.

When police arrived at the scene, they discovered a five-car-accident; all caused by the tractor-trailer. The one motorist’s death occurred when his vehicle flipped upside down. Three other motorists sustained injuries.

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As our readers know, truck accidents can be extremely dangerous to all involved. Even when these accidents are not fatal, they often result in victims suffering serious injuries that are sometimes permanent and disabling. These are the types of accidents we need to work together as a community to prevent, whether by contacting our legislature, reporting unsafe driving to trucking companies or authorities to hold employees/employers accountable, or encouraging friends and family members to drive safely and avoid negligence. With extra efforts, we can bring the numbers of these accidents down.

CBS News, recently reported that the number of fatal accidents involving big-rigs is on the rise. that the report links this increase to the fact that most tires on trucks are not meant to handle maximum constant speeds over 75 mph, yet many truckers travel at for long distances on expressways for their routes. Trucks across the nation consistently exceed that limit, and federal investigators believe this is leading to crashes. The article also reports data that between 2009 and 2013, large trucks and buses were responsible for 14,000 fatal accidents across the county. Of those fatalities, 223 were related to heavy truck tires, according to government data.

The same article notes that last month, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation revealed that multiple Michelin tire blowouts were to the result of a deadly combination of high speeds and lack of maintenance. The NHTSA stated that no truck tire is rated above 81 mph and most are rated at 75 mph. However, 16 of our states have truck speeds equal to or greater than 75 mph. Four states even have speeds at 80 mph. For these reasons, some argue that state laws are an explanation of failures to combat big-rig fatalities.
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Our attorneys were saddened by last year’s Chicago suburban truck crash that injured an Illinois state trooper and took the life of the tollway worker he was assisting. Since this crash occurred, we have been dedicated to keeping informed of the legal developments so that these victims can obtain justice for this wrongdoing and that the roads may be an overall safer place.

According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, the truck driver responsible for the crash has been found guilty of driving while impaired. The court ruled that the trucker was found guilty of fatigued driving and violating safety laws, making him guilty of three of the four felonies he faced. The court dismissed counts that he had falsified his logbook, citing that there was lack of evidence.

Authorities reported he had been driving or on duty in significant excess of the hours allowed under the law, according to the same article. The judge reiterated in court that the defendant had been driving or on duty for at least 18 or 20 hours over the course of 26 hours. This was in violation of laws that limit a commercial operator to 11 hours behind the wheel over a 14-hour shift. When he struck the Illinois State Police squad car stopped along the side of the road, the police car’s gas tank was ruptured. This sparked flames and explosions. The truck driver had been hauling 14,000 pound rolls of steel, and upon collision, one came free and struck the tollway worker’s vehicle, killing him. Even though the tollway worker and police officer’s vehicles had the emergency flashers activated and were visible on the side of the road, the truck driver did not heed them any attention because he had fallen asleep.
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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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Fatigued truck drivers has been frequently highlighted in the news, especially after numerous truck accidents where drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel from driving for too long. By requiring truck driver employees to work so many hours in a row without enough of a break to significantly rest, companies are endangering not only their employees but everyone else on the roads with the truck drivers. When demanding so many logged hours of drivers, companies are putting profit above protecting human life.

This issue has been highlighted by major news sources again recently, in an article by ABC. In the video report of this article, it is reported that in 2012 alone there were 300,000 large truck crashes and 4,000 fatalities. It is all too often that truck drivers are excessively speeding or tailgating cars in front of them. Very often the cause of this is driving while too tired from logging too many hours behind the wheel in a row. The video interviews one truck driver, where the viewer can hear his truck radio instructing the truck driver to continue driving even though he said he was falling asleep behind the wheel. The driver was informed over the radio that there was no choice in this matter and that he would have to continue driving. Instead of understanding the safety at issue, the dispatcher became rather terse and intimidating to the driver by begging the question of if the driver is wondering where his paycheck is going to come from. Understandably, with pressures like these, many truck drivers may feel compelled to log more hours than their body can handle without rest.
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Throughout the past few months, our law firm has frequently written about issues of negligence making truck accidents more frequent and especially dangerous. While it is not only truck drivers who are guilty of negligent acts like distracted driving, driving while fatigued, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and driving for too many hours straight, recent accidents have brought truck safety to the spotlight. Such accidents have made the media and public focus on ways to increase safety in the trucking industry in order to decrease the number of lives lost each year due to negligence.

According to a recent article by the Supply Chain Digest, fatal truck accidents have been on the rise. This is especially important for lawmakers, truck companies, and all citizens to reflect on because truck accidents had been on the decline for over a decade and have now sharply increased. In fact, the national statistics for fatal accidents involving large trucks fell from 4573 in 2000 to 2983 in 2009, which was a decrease of 35%. However, after 2009, fatal truck accident again went on the rise. As of 2012, fatal accidents reported in at 3464, which was a 16% increase from 2009.

The article also breaks down how frequently these accidents occur. For the most part, the number of trucks on our highways has remained constant, despite some recovery from the recession. Even with the same number of trucks on the roads though, the number of fatalities has increased. Fatal accidents per million vehicle miles traveled has jumped from 1.03 in 2009 to 1.29 in 2012. This is approximately 9.4 fatal truck accidents per day in the United States, in addition to the 100,000 individuals that are injured every year in truck accidents.
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It is all too often that we must report to our readers unfortunate news, startling statistics, and researched dangers of motor vehicle and truck accidents. However, when there is good news, we are happy to bring these reports and studies to our readers as well.

According to recent reports by KSAT 12, an HEB truck driver has set a record for logging 4 million miles of travel without a truck accident. The truck driver, Andres Corona, drives a big rig and successfully racked up 4 millions accident-free miles. The Department of Public Safety was present for the 4 million milestone and escorted the driver and 18-wheeler. This record was the first time in the state of Texas, where the driver hails from, that a truck driver reached this record. The driver spoke on the need for skill and defensive driving, while recalling several close calls, to reach this milestone without even a minor scrape along the way. The driver also said that he believes reaching this record is much more difficult in our modern day and recent years due to negligent and distracted drivers who talk on the phone while driving and due to increased speed limits on highways.
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Every week our lawyers report on the dangers of negligent driving and the numerous truck and motor vehicle accidents that take place in Chicago and throughout Illinois. What is most unfortunate is that a majority of these accidents would never have occurred if drivers took the caution and safety measures needed when getting behind the wheel. With vigilance and avoiding reckless behavior, personal injuries would be avoided and lives would be spared.

Unfortunately, an avoidable accident occurred in Bridgeview, which took the lives of four people, according to reports by the Palos Patch and NBC Chicago. The two-vehicle accident disrupted Independence Day celebrations on Friday afternoon when a passenger vehicle and a truck crashed head on in the 8200 block of Harlem Avenue. The four victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, and one other person suffered personal injuries. According to a witness, the passenger vehicle was traveling at a speed of approximately 100 miles per hour and was weaving in and out of traffic, and then lost control and hit the truck head on. Some witnesses thought that it appeared that the car was racing. The damage to the vehicles was so severe that both were beyond recognition to the investigators.

Street racing was the cause of another accident in Gurnee, according to the Daily Herald. A 16-year-old girl from Antioch died when the driver of the car in which she was riding was racing and lost control, causing the car to crash into another vehicle on Route 120 in Gurnee. The young woman was in the back seat and was thrown through the window when the car flipped. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, and three other teens were also injured.
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