Chicagoland Personal Injury Law Blog

Authorities struggle to cope with surge in distracted driving

Motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers claimed 3,477 lives throughout Illinois and the rest of the country in 2015. Unfortunately, most road safety experts expect the problem to get even worse in the years ahead. Smartphones and automobile entertainment and navigation systems are often blamed for the recent surge in distracted driving accidents and injuries, but studies have found that talking to passengers may actually be the most distracting behavior that motorists engage in.

Collisions involving distracted drivers are often deadly because evasive action is rarely taken during such incidents. Efforts to deal with the problem include stricter distracted driving laws, more rigorous policing and public awareness campaigns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 660,000 U.S. motorists are using their cellphones while behind the wheel during daylight hours.

Highway deaths: the most frequent factors

The highways of Illinois see their fair share of accidents. Unfortunately, many of them end in fatalities. Since all kinds of factors can contribute to an accident, drivers will want to know how to remain safe. Some factors are beyond control, however, they still require drivers to respond in a cautious manner.

For example, some highways are designed with tight corners and narrow shoulders. Others have no shoulders at all or exits that can lead motorists into blind intersections. Too often, drivers are careless around such problem areas and cause accidents. Rainy and snowy weather also causes some to lose control or rear-end other vehicles.

Spring forward may cause drowsy driving

Illinois residents and others may feel more tired than usual as they adjust to the clock moving an hour forward. According to AAA, about 10 percent of accidents are attributed to drowsy driving. In addition to the lost hour of sleep, the time change may result in darker conditions when drivers head to work in the morning.

One suggestion is to prepare for the time change a day or two in advance as the time change can make people drowsy without realizing or acknowledging it. Those who may be walking during dawn or dusk are encouraged to wear bright colors and to have a flashlight on them. Drivers are encouraged to be mindful that people are likely to be out during peak traffic times as the days get longer.

How governors can help reduce traffic deaths

State governors have a crucial role in the reduction of traffic deaths not only in Illinois but in the rest of the U.S. This is emphasized by the release of a new report from the National Governors Association. Serving as a "road map" or policy development tool, the report offers concrete recommendations and strategies for improving highway safety.

Every state can use it in portions or in its entirety, according to its unique situation. Governors are encouraged first of all to provide leadership over collaboration efforts between different state agencies, most importantly highway safety offices. The Governors Highway Safety Association, an agency that assisted in the development of the NGA report. By streamlining communication between these agencies, governors could move forward with proposals for improving safety. They should also identify any promising efforts that have already been made within the state and do what they can to bolster them.

AAA publishes results of study on drowsy driving

Motorists in Illinois may not think that drowsiness poses as great a risk to driving as alcohol or smartphone distractions. However, new research shows otherwise. While U.S. government statistics, which are based on police reports and post-crash investigations, found that drowsiness causes only 1 to 2 percent of all crashes, a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that the percentage may be higher.

For the study, researchers monitored more than 3,500 drivers over the course of several months and tracked the number of crashes they were involved in. They used in-vehicle cameras and measured drowsiness using the PERCLOS (percentage of eye closure) alertness measurement. Their conclusion was that out of the 701 crashes that occurred, drowsiness accounted for 8.8 to 9.5 percent. Over 10 percent of the crashes caused by sleepiness led to airbag deployment, property damage or injuries.

Federal agencies investigate crash of Tesla sedan on 'Autopilot'

The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have each sent a team to investigate the recent crash of a Tesla Model S electric car that was on "Autopilot." While neither would comment in detail about the pending investigation, it is likely they want to understand the role the Autopilot system played in the frightening wreck.

According to Bloomberg, the Model S was traveling at approximately 65 mph when it struck the back of a fire truck that was parked in the roadway. The fire crew was assisting at another crash site.

Children playing in snow attacked by landlord’s dog

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: their young child screams helplessly as a dog viciously attacks. Running on adrenaline and instincts, the parent rushes over to pry the animal off their child. However, the damage has already taken place.

One mom experienced this tragedy as her children were playing in the snow outside their home. The family’s landlord owned a German Shepherd that was allowed to roam in the area. As the mother brought her toddler inside, she heard the dog attack her 8-year-old child. After saving her son by forcing the dog off of him, the mother took him to the emergency room, where he received ten stitches.

Highway Accident

Ryan, Ryan & Landa attorney Michael Viglione finalized a confidential settlement for a client injured in a highway accident in Cook County, IL. The accident occurred when a tire from a homemade trailer came loose and flew through a driver's windshield on the expressway. The occurrence resulted in a traumatic brain injury and corresponding deficits. The at fault driver negligently constructed the trailer and subsequently failed to inspect the trailer prior to taking it on the highway. The case was settled without a formal lawsuit filed. 

Wrongful Death Suits Against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

The number of children that die while the subject of an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or while being monitored by the agency has gone up in recent years. Now, two wrongful death suits have been filed against the state agency on behalf of children that died while in the system. Wrongful death is a death caused by the negligent, reckless or willful conduct of another. Wrongful death is a civil wrong and those liable can be responsible for monetary damages.

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