Articles Posted in Legislation-Illinois

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We’ve discussed many truck accidents with unique causes. Many typical motor vehicle accidents are often due to driver negligence like speeding and failing to stop for a signal, or crashing under poor weather conditions, and while these are still factors for truck accidents, there is an additional and very significant factor that leads to many serious truck accidents: not abiding by federal and state rules set for the trucking industry.

Our governments have rules in place specifically mandated for the commercial trucking industry to follow to promote safety and protect everyone on the road. It is far too often that trucking companies order their drivers to drive too many consecutive hours straight without rest to get a job done, which endangers the lives of drivers and others on the road, and greatly increases the likelihood of a crash when drivers are fatigued. Oftentimes this occurs when drivers falsify their log books and drive many hours straight, causing them to fall asleep behind the wheel. It is important that the state and federal governments fight these actions of putting profit before the safety and welfare of those on the road with fatigued drivers.
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Nearly 600 people have been killed in traffic accidents throughout Illinois so far this year, according to a source from WLS Chicago, and officials say distracted driving plays one of the largest roles in these fatalities. In an effort to prevent distracted driving accidents, Governor Pat Quinn has recently signed a law that will rid of one of the biggest driving distractions: cell phones. Texting and driving is already prohibited in Illinois, but now the state will join about a dozen others that also ban hand-held devices behind the wheel.

Under the new legislation effective January 1st, 2014, the use of hand-held devices is banned for Illinois drivers unless they use hands-free technology or pull off of the road to make a call. Calls can also legally be made in the case of an emergency. Fines for violating this law will start at $75 for first offenses and may rise up to $150 for repeat offenses. Moving violations on motorists’ driving records are also possible results, with three moving violations within a year leading to suspension of the driver’s license. WLS Chicago continues to state that distracted motorists who harm or kill others in an accident could be charged with fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time.

Our personal injury attorneys recently learned of an Illinois accident in which a 46-year old victim was seriously injured after his truck was struck from behind by another vehicle. The driver of this vehicle had reached down to pick up his cell phone after it had fallen to the floor and consequently hit the truck. This accident is only one example of the many that occur each day due to cell phone distraction. In a statement made after implementing his new law, Governor Quinn said, “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented. Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive and alert behind the wheel.”

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With high summer temperatures bringing many regions of the country heat and humidity, staying cool during these times is critical in order to prevent serious injury or damage to one’s health. Although we hear about incidents every year when the summers comes around, a personal injury attorney at our firm was surprised to read a report about a woman who recently left her child in her car while the temperature was ninety degrees outside.

Cbs.local.com reports that the ten-year-old girl was left unattended in the parked car outside of a grocery store while the driver went shopping. Police say that an officer checking to make sure the fire lanes in front of the store were clear spotted the car illegally parked in the fire lane. When the officer looked closer, he saw that the car was running and the little girl was inside. When he spoke with the girl, she told him she had been waiting there for a very long time.

The report states that the 25 year-old driver was later ticketed for leaving the girl in the vehicle while she went shopping. According to police, this had been the sixth time last week that someone had been charged with leaving a child, dog, or a combination of both in a car, sometimes with temperatures higher than ninety degrees and the car windows closed.

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Two women were injured after a Chicago Fire Department engine struck their vehicle in Chicago last Monday. The accident occurred at about 3:30pm at the intersection of Congress Parkway and Columbus Drive when the fire truck was responding to an emergency call in the Loop. The truck had its lights and sirens on as it attempted to travel through the intersection, according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesman. Witnesses say that while all other vehicles nearby stopped to allow the truck to proceed, the vehicle carrying both women failed to stop and reportedly turned in front of the truck on Columbus Drive. The fire truck then collided with the vehicle, which was pushed onto a sidewalk and into a parked car.

Abclocal.go.com states the women had to be extricated from the vehicle and were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition. The fire department spokeswoman believes the women’s’ conditions were stabilized because of their vehicle’s full set of airbags having deployed after the collision. It was unclear whether any firefighters or fire personnel were injured, but damage to the fire truck was believed to be minimal.

Our accident lawyers remind drivers that Illinois has had a law in place for 10 years to protect emergency vehicles and personnel from both reckless drivers and drivers that may interfere with an emergency vehicle that is responding to an emergency call. The legislation was created after a Lieutenant of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by a drunken driver while assisting at a traffic crash scene on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2001. Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law,” was enacted in 2002 and requires Illinois motorists to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, being sure to proceed with caution. These emergency vehicles include police cars, fire engines, ambulances, and tow trucks. The law also requires that motorists yield to any vehicle equipped with red, white, blue, and/or yellow warning lights and yield to highway workers.

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Memorial Day weekend is just one weekend in May that makes many people feel like summer is just around the corner. There is unfortunately a correlation between the anticipation of the seasonal change and motorists and passengers wearing seatbelts less while traveling. Our accident attorneys learned that due to increased travel during the holiday weekend over the last few years, an average of 12.2 percent more traffic fatalities generally occurred than during comparable non-holiday time frames. Additionally, about 39,500 more injuries resulted from motor vehicle accidents. These injuries and fatalities were often due to drivers and passengers not wearing their seatbelts.

Thankfully, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s “Click it or Ticket” annual campaign was created a few years ago in order to increase seatbelt usage throughout the country. Because of the above statistics and injury rates, the most campaigning is usually completed before and on Memorial Day weekend. During this time, state and local law enforcement agencies crack down on motorists who are not wearing seatbelts. Chicago.cbslocal.com released that over the recent holiday weekend, the campaign saved an estimated 330 people. NHTSA states that the safety belt enforcement campaign was responsible for successfully contributing to the highest national safety belt usage rate of 85 percent.

Thirty-three states, including Illinois, have principal seat belt laws that allow police officers to ticket motorists or passengers for not wearing seat belts. In addition, sixteen states have secondary laws that allow officers to issue tickets to unbelted motorists or passengers only when there is a “citable traffic violation” at play. (Freep.com). Among primary law states, Illinois issued the most citations last year, a massive 74,364 as compared to Arkansas, for example, which had the lowest at 435. These numbers are presented as seen on NHTSA’s most recent “Click It or Ticket Evaluation Report.”

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Kmov.com recently reported that a Greene County couple is dead after their motorcycle was rear-ended at a traffic light on Saturday night. A motorcycle accident attorney at our firm learned that according to authorities, a Harley Davison was stopped in traffic and was attempting to turn left onto Kane road when a pickup truck crashed into it from behind.

The 46-year old driver and the 42-year old passenger were both ejected from the motorcycle and were both pronounced dead at the scene. The 21-year old pickup truck driver was not injured and was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. After an accident reconstruction team was called to southbound US 67 at Kane road shortly after the accident, authorities were able to report that neither the driver of passenger of the motorcycle was wearing a helmet. Investigations into the crash are ongoing.

Our attorneys understand that more people in Illinois have begun to rely on motorcycles as a means of transportation, and fatal accidents involving motorcycles are greatly increasing as a result. A primary reason for the severity of these accidents has to do with helmet laws, or lack thereof, in the state of Illinois. Officially enacted in 1970, Illinois does not have any helmet laws in place for motorcycle drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2011, 83% of the people who died from motorcycle crashes in Illinois were not wearing a helmet. This is among the highest percent nationally. In the United States, Illinois ranks 47th for lives saved and economic costs saved due to helmet use. Shockingly, compared to the 36 lives saved in states with a Universal Helmet Law in place in 2010, only 4 were saved in Illinois. Additionally, states with a Universal Helmet Law saved about $73 million dollars, while Illinois only saved $9 million.

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According to an online news report by Suntimes.com, two vehicles were involved in a fatal accident at 95th Street and LaGrange Road near Hickory Hills, Illinois this past weekend. One of our Chicago wrongful death lawyers read that a 51-year-old Crystal Lake woman was driving east on 95th street and had the green light when she entered the intersection. Her SUV was then hit by a pickup truck traveling south on LaGrange road. The 25-year-old Orland Park man ran a red light at the intersection and T-boned the woman’s car. A Cook Country sheriff’s police spokeswoman stated that preliminary investigations indicate the man may have been driving up to 70 miles per hour. The spokeswoman also said the man had made statements that he had been out drinking in Chicago since the evening before.

The woman, a dedicated wife and mother of three, had been traveling to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she worked as a part time registered nurse when the accident took place. She was taken to Palos Community Hospital shortly after the accident and was later pronounced dead. The Orland Park driver, who was treated at the same hospital for minor injuries, is now in police custody and is being charged for driving under the influence. There were no other passengers in either vehicle, and no other vehicles were involved in the accident.

As our attorneys reading the above report noted, accidents caused by failing to obey traffic signals can be fatal. However, as of recently, legislation has been passed and signed into law authorizing the use of traffic safety cameras throughout the state of Illinois to decrease the number of these accidents. Specifically, local police departments are using red light cameras to hold drivers accountable for driving through red lights. As recently as February 2012, legislation was also passed to authorize the use of speed cameras in Chicago school and park zones. Governor Pat Quinn outlined his support for these cameras, stating “Reducing speed around schools and parks where children are present is a good policy for Illinois, and I’ve signed the legislation because I think it does have an impact on safety.”

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Any typical driver in Illinois has experienced their share of construction on many roadways or highways in their lifetime, and has therefore driven past numerous tow trucks, signs with flashing lights, traffic cones, and emergency vehicle personnel assisting authorities at construction scenes. While many drivers cautiously and attentively drive past these construction scenes, others fail to do so and as a result cause a significant amount of damage and personal injury to vehicles or individuals working at the scene. This fact is something that our Illinois truck accident lawyers believe needs to be addressed and wants to inform all drivers of the current issues at hand.

Chicagotribune.com recently released a report detailing the death of a 20-year old tow truck driver who was killed by a passing motorist as he was assisting someone on an interstate. The driver that hit him allegedly failed to pay attention to the flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the side of the road and thus struck and killed the truck driver. After learning about this accident, an owner of a transportation service in Barrington, Illinois wanted to remind drivers to “move over and slow down” when they see a tow truck with flashing lights along the side of the road. The owner states that most people don’t recognize tow truck operators as emergency vehicles and fail to take the necessary precautions when they pass by them on roads or highways.

Illinois has had a law in place for ten years to protect emergency vehicles and personnel from reckless drivers. The legislation, details the report, was created after a Lieutenant of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by a drunken driver while assisting at a traffic crash scene on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2001. Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law,” was enacted in 2002 and requires Illinois motorists to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the roads, being sure to proceed with caution. These emergency vehicles include police, fire, ambulance, highway workers and tow truck drivers. The law also requires that motorists yield to any vehicle equipped with red, white, blue, and/or yellow warning lights.

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An Illinois truck accident lawyer at our firm recently learned that an Illinois cell phone ban for truckers is now in effect as of January 1st. A report on Chicagotribune.com states that the Illinois Department of Transportation has supported three important pieces of legislation that are specifically aimed at reducing cell phone use while driving, in addition to clearing lanes of traffic immediately following motor vehicle accidents.

The first piece of legislation alters a previous Illinois law, which prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles but permitted cell phones. Now, new legislation prohibits texting or using a hand-held phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and makes this a serious traffic violation.

The second piece of legislation prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones. This rule must be followed regardless of the speed limit in these zones. The report states that motorists are allowed to use cell phones in voice-operated mode with the use of a headset, or cell phones used with single button activation. In response to this legislation, an Illinois Transportation Secretary stated, “People are tragically injured and killed in work zones and by commercial motor vehicles due to distracted driving. Cell phone distractions have been proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving.”

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Rockford Register Star Online recently released a news report detailing new traffic statistics that have been published revealing the decrease in fatalities on Illinois Roadways. Through information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Information, our accident lawyers in Chicago learned that traffic fatalities in the state of Illinois have declined 26 percent from 2006 to 2010. These statistics also report a 21 percent decline in fatalities pertaining to speeding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were approximately 927 traffic fatalities in 2010 – a noticeable decrease from the 1,254 deaths in 2006. Traffic Safety Coalition, a non-profit group, released a statement emphasizing that Illinois roads have become safer due to increased seatbelt use, better air bag technology, as well as, the installation of red light cameras.

Nationwide data reports that red light cameras have continued to show positive change in driver behavior and aids in deterring drivers from breaking traffic laws. Our Chicago accident lawyers learned that in February, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into legislation a law that permits the city of Chicago to use speed cameras to monitor drivers around parks and schools. The article reveals that this particular piece of legislation may ultimately extend to other cities in Illinois.