Chicagoland Personal Injury Law Blog

The holiday season can be a dangerous time for Chicago drivers

Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the nation around Christmas. Some may love spending the holidays in the Windy City and exploring all the different shops and lights on display. Others may be driving through the area on their annual road trip towards a different part of the country.

While the holidays are often seen as a celebratory time for many families and workers, anyone who drives through or around Chicago view it as one of the more grueling times of the year. The variety of ways a car can get damaged or the driver is at risk increases exponentially near the end of December, and it is important for motorists to be aware of these hazards so they can keep a close eye out during their annual travels or daily commutes around Christmas and New Year’s.

Safety measures for traveling the roadways during winter weather

Winter driving conditions can suddenly become hazardous as families travel this time of year to spend holidays with relatives. Drivers in Illinois who are prepared for inclement weather will likely manage better than those who are not prepared for it.

These days, technology can help drivers be safer on the nation's roadways because many newer vehicles come equipped with things like traction control. It is important for drivers to understand how various safety features of their vehicles work. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa are trying to educate the public about several newly available safety devices installed on vehicles today. The crusade was dubbed 'My Car Does What?" and may help give drivers the information they need to travel safely this winter.

Speeding, drowsiness may be to blame for rise in trucking deaths

Illinois residents have a good reason to be anxious when driving around large trucks. The number of large-truck fatalities reached a 29-year high in 2017 with 4,761 people killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As for what is causing this trend, representatives of the trucking industry have a theory.

For example, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association states that federal truck safety rules are to blame. One rule that requires truckers to take a half-hour break after eight consecutive work hours has been singled out because, according to the OOIDA, it forces truckers to make up for lost time by speeding. Some truckers say that they become drowsy more quickly because they take the break.

Safety tips for driving in bright sunlight

The rising and setting sun can cause visual illusions and hurt drivers' eyes. In fact, the risk for a life-threatening car crash goes up by 16 percent in bright sunlight. Drivers in Illinois will want to consider the following tips for driving safely amid the sun's bright rays.

The first tip is to avoid driving in these conditions when possible. When it's not possible, drivers can wait until the sun has completely risen or set below the horizon. Drivers should know that their reaction times become slower in the bright light. This means keeping a greater distance from the vehicle in front. If the rays begin to really impede driving, it's best to exit the road and wait 10 or 15 minutes for the sun to reposition.

Teenage drivers and crash fatality rates

As National Teen Driver Safety Week approaches, parents may be more mindful of the dangers their teenagers face when they are on the road. According to new research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when teenage drivers in Illinois and the rest of the country have only other teenagers as passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rates for everyone who is in a crash jumps to 51 percent.

The same report revealed that when the vehicles contain a teenage driver and passengers who are at least 35 years old, the fatality rate for crashes will drop by 8 percent. The AAA states that research indicates how very important it is for teenage drivers to have a sufficient amount of supervised driving training.

Could a rock salt shortage make winter more dangerous?

Illinois roads and sidewalks are so full of salt during the winter it’s hard to imagine what we’d do without it. From the store owner sprinkling salt outside their small business to the city dumping salt on the roads, rock salt is important for winter safety.

So what happens if there isn’t enough salt to go around?

NHTSA: truck crash deaths rise in 2017, car crash deaths decrease

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its 2017 crash data, culled from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. It turns out that the number of people killed in traffic crashes went down from 37,806 in 2016 to 37,133 in 2017: a 1.8 percent decrease. The most positive difference was seen in the number of speeding-related deaths, down by 5.6 percent, and bicyclist deaths, down by 8.1 percent.

Passenger vehicle fatalities decreased by 1.4 percent while motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths saw a decline of 3.1 and 1.7 percent, respectively. Deaths from distracted driving crashes went down as well although they still made up 3,166, or 8.5 percent, of all deaths.

Car crash rates rise among always-connected mobile workforce

The 2018 Distracted Driving Report from Motus should be of interest to Illinois residents who are either part of a grey fleet or the operators of one. The mobile workforce is increasingly connected: in 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned a smartphone, but in 2017, that percentage rose to 77. At the same time, the number of auto accidents among mobile workers rose from 5.7 million in 2013 to 6.4 million in 2017.

Motus believes that there is a clear correlation. While smartphone use may not be the only source of distracted driving, it is a pivotal one. In 2017, Americans drove a total of 107 billion miles while distracted by their phones. Mobile workers drive more than any other type of employee, so they pose a special danger to others on the road. According to Motus calculations, mobile workers drive about 1,200 "distracted miles" every year. Smartphone use is especially common among them during the mornings and evenings, when they commute, but hits a peak between the hours of 2 pm and 4 pm.

Teen drivers may learn lessons from realistic experience programs

There are plenty of stats suggesting that teen drivers in Illinois are more likely to be involved in accidents involving personal injuries. This is why efforts are often made to help motorists under the age of 21 understand the consequences of risky driving behaviors. Results from a university study suggest that supplemental drivers' education programs that include realistic experiences like emergency room tours and visits to intensive care units increase awareness of the dangers of risky driving.

While results from the study are encouraging, a two-month follow-up failed to show any conclusive evidence as to whether or not the program had a significant impact on modifying behaviors behind the wheel. The study focused on a supplemental risk reduction program that included ER, ICU and morgue visits as well as a test covering topics such as DUI and distracted driving.

Illinois motorcyclist deaths go up, lack of helmet law to blame

While the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide went down 8.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, that number actually went up 5.2 percent in the same time span in Illinois. Preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that compared to 154 deaths in 2016, there were 162 reported deaths in 2017.

There are many factors that go into motorcycle accidents, such as operator error, hazards created by motorists, bad weather and the presence of wildlife. The Governors Highway Safety Association also points to alcohol. In a report covering motorcycle crashes in 2016, the GHSA found that riders were legally drunk in 25 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes.

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Ryan, Ryan & Landa

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