Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

IMG_4566-e1569881472143-225x300

 

The state of Illinois is upping it’s reinforcement of Scott’s Law, nearly 19 years since the death of the law’s namesake, 37 year old fireman Scott Gillen, from a tragic accident. Governor JB Pritzker incorporated harsher penalties into the legislation, which is a variation of the “Move Over” law, increasing the fines for a first violation to at least $250, and at least $750 for any further violations.  The maximum fine could be up to $10,000. This comes as no surprise considering violators of the law cost the lives of three state troopers this year alone, with 22 drivers on record crashing into State Troopers along the side of the road this year.

Scott’s Law makes it a requirement for other drivers to cede their right of way, yield and slow down for any vehicle with its hazard lights on, to give emergency workers safe clearance while doing their jobs.  The morning of December 23, 2000, Lt. Scott Gillen was attending to a crash scene, doing everything he was trained to do and followed standard protocol, when an intoxicated Carlando J. Hurt failed to respect the flares and the warning signs surrounding the scene, pinning Lt. Scott Gillen to his firetruck and killing him. Earlier this year, State Trooper Christopher Lambert also died when he was struck by another vehicle that failed to slow down or move over.

Though Scott’s Law was enacted and designed with emergency workers in mind, in reality, it traces back to a more common issue which is distracted driving. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. believes that as a general rule of thumb, all individuals sharing the road must proceed with caution, no matter their role in any given situation.

 

IMG_3970-169x300
With 2,500 new dockless electric scooters, and countless first-time riders on the road, Chicago’s new e-scooter pilot program has gotten off to a rocky start. In the first six days alone since the launch, at least ten people went to emergency rooms for scooter-related injuries, with two of these injuries requiring surgery.

These accidents, ranging from hit-and-runs to cyclist injuries, are a rising threat for people simply getting around in the 50-square-mile testing area outside of the Loop. However, A study by the CDC and the city of Austin, TX (another city in the e-scooter boom) found that 33% of scooter accidents happen during a rider’s first time on a scooter. Another 30% of accidents occurred within the riders’ first ten rides. The data out of Austin combined with the rainy weather during Chicago’s pilot week is a recipe for deadlier accidents than ever. A 2011 study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.  The injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge everyone to exercise extra caution given that many first-time and new riders are getting their bearings in the direct line of traffic.

E-scooter riders are relegated to bike lanes, but lack of enforcement by the program vendors finds pedestrians dodging riders and side-stepping e-scooters left in the sidewalks and streets. The CDOT and partner vendors have distributed guidelines, via fliers, to communicate expectations of scooter use, with rules such as “We walk scooters on the sidewalk. We keep our eyes on the road. Be alert and pay attention. We wear helmets. We park scooters with care outside of sidewalk paths and by bike racks where possible. We ride in the bicycle lane. We obey all local traffic laws. They apply to us.” However, once off the bicycle lane, the app-based leaves it up to riders to decide where to park the scooters after use.

IMG_3790-e1560113681967-225x300
This springtime in Chicago has been the 8th rainiest year on record, according to WGN’s Tom Skilling. Although that may be good news for the flowers, it can be dangerous for everyone else. A new study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.

Even a light drizzle raised the risk of crashes by 27%, the study found.  Scott Stevens and his team at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies reported that less than 1/10 of an inch accumulation of rain is enough to turn road conditions. Moderate rain boosts the chance of motor injury and fatality up to 75%, and heavy rain nearly doubles that to nearly 150%.

Stevens and his team looked at information from the 48 states in the continental U.S. and found that the risks especially increase during the morning rush hour, and in the winter months. Morning rush hour provides more congestion on the roads, and thus more opportunity for a crash.

IMG_3210-e1560114933228-225x300

The Governors Highway Safety Association has recently reported that pedestrians killed in the United States have hit the highest level in 28 years.  Data compiled from the states show that there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2018 which represents a rise of 4% over 2017 and a rise of 35% since 2008.  The Association pointed to the fact there are more distracted drivers on the road and more people walking to work as possible culprits.  Another likely reason that there are more pedestrian deaths is the fact that there are more SUV’s on the road and studies have shown that SUV/pedestrian crashes are more likely to result in the pedestrian being killed than a smaller size automobile hitting a pedestrian.

The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that pedestrian deaths in Chicago have also been steadily rising over the last five years.  Chicago Department of Transportation reported 46 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 compared to 27 fatalities in 2013.   Attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that pedestrian safety is an issue that deserves more attention that it is currently receiving in the city of Chicago.  Police need to enforce the traffic laws that are designed help keep pedestrians safer such as traffic laws requiring drivers to stop when pedestrians are in a cross walk and traffic laws prohibiting drivers from texting while driving.

 

Chicagoans who take the eco-friendly approach to transportation by bicycling face daily dangers on busy downtown roads. Cyclists must be especially wary of drivers who suddenly open their doors after parking, without properly checking the oncoming traffic. Beginning January 2019, Illinois has taken a major step into preventing such door crashes by implementing the Dutch Reach into law. It is the 2nd state in the U.S. to implement the method, in hopes of raising awareness of cyclists on shared roads, and reducing door crashes.

The Dutch Reach, so called because of the practice’s origins in the Netherlands, is the method for drivers and passengers to open their car doors using their far hand. By moving your arm across your body, it forces you to twist and face the road behind you, making you vigilant to oncoming traffic.

The passed legislation adds the Dutch Reach to the Rules of the Road handbook that is issued to students and drivers in Illinois. RideIllinois, a nonprofit organization that advocates for cyclists in Illinois, has worked with the Secretary of State to include questions about the Dutch Reach in the driver’s license test. New drivers, along with those renewing their licenses and other adults getting their licenses for the first time, will have to study up on the method in order to pass both the written test and driving test.

IMG_3012-2-300x187
The last four years have seen a marked decline in mass transit nationwide. This is not surprising but nonetheless alarming. With the increasing popularity of ride-share services, lack of investments and a rise in car ownership, it is no wonder that rapidly growing areas such as Austin, for instance, suffered a double-digit decline in ridership this year at 19.5 percent.  The real shame about this data published by the Federal Transit Administration is that as more people commute with automobiles, the more they put themselves at risk for auto-crash related fatalities. Entire communities may well see a spike of auto accidents due to less public transit patronage.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute conducted a study called The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation stressing the significant connection between public transit ridership to traffic fatalities. The study shows that a person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90 percent simply by taking public transit and transit oriented communities are safer than automobile oriented communities. It also outlines the many incentives of taking the train or the bus as opposed to driving and how pro-transit policies can pave the way for pedestrian and cycling improvements, more efficient parking management, smarter street designs and more services to different routes. Why then does the CTA see a steady decline of ridership, especially, in their fleet of buses? Uber, Lyft and Via have taken a large chunk of the market while cheap gasoline prices have made car ownership attractive. Late night weekends in the entertainment districts of Chicago are when these apps tend to dominate over the CTA. It has lost 20% of riders in this period over the last two years according to a Chicago Business Article.

Much of the focus on road safety during the last decade or so has been devoted to automobiles and enhanced features within the car itself such as mounted cameras, emergency brakes etc., instead of investment in public transit. But owning a Ventra pass is truly one of the most effective life-saving tool there is and personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, agrees that public transportation investment is among the most cost effective ways to enhance traffic safety for a community.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to use public transportation where available.

IMG_2451-e1560115094963-225x300

The city of Chicago has been touted as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. Actual cyclists do not always share the same view. There is still tension and resentment between motorists and cyclists which does not directly result in a crash but is definitely a contributing factor in how biking as a socio-economic activity is being perceived in the city and the nation as a whole.  On stretches of busy streets such as Milwaukee Avenue, you will find cyclists and motorists warily sharing the road with each other as best they can.

Chicago Tribune reported during this summer, that cyclists’ deaths have increased by 34.8 percent—a disconcerting number considering the efforts the city and Vision Zero have put in to make biking safer for many who choose to do so.  Many bikeway paths downtown are sacrificed in the name of congestion and heavy construction, making them smaller than ever and more dangerous for bikers to traverse. August of this year, a 39 year old woman on her bike was pronounced dead after being struck by a truck in the West Loop on Halsted and Madison. In light of this recent tragedy, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, notes that the city of Chicago still has a long way to go in protecting its vulnerable roadway user.

The personal injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have represented numerous cyclists who have experienced the perils of biking first hand and have incurred harrowing injuries as a result. Nevertheless, avid cyclists and many cycling organizations in the country are relentless in their pursuit of safer bikeway conditions. For one, a Harvard study is delving into a smarter and more sophisticated design to safely separate cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles from each other. Cities around the world have started building barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks between the sidewalk and the street and if successfully implemented, this will increase levels of biking while improving safety.

Working as a truck driver is difficult and dangerous job.  The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reveals that between 2015 and 2016 all fatal work injuries in the United States jumped by 7%.  Reviewing the Census, the Chicago truck accident attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer noted that driving a truck is a dangerous jobs, with increasing numbers of fatal injuries.  In 2016, for example, in transportation and material moving occupations fatalities increased by 7 percent from the year before.  The 2016 count is highest since 2007 and accounts for more than one-quarter of all work-related fatalities in the United States.  There were 24.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016.  The industry employs approximately 3 million drivers, the most jobs in this very dangerous field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s research a number of factors contribute  to  fatal  highway  crashes  of truckdrivers, including:  the type of truck, whether it was maintained, the time of day, and the weather conditions.  According to the DOL, two-thirds of truck driver fatalities involved a driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer truck.  Incidents involved brake failure, road, and weather conditions.

Important factor contributing to truck driver fatalities is driver fatigue.  Data shows that approximately one-third of the fatalities occurred between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the body naturally wants to rest, and almost half occurred during standard work hours, between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On average approximately 200 truckdrivers were fatally struck by vehicles while out of their trucks; half of these occurred during hours of twilight or darkness, 4 p.m. to  8  a.m., but  almost  half  were  fatally  struck  during  the day.

Continue reading

The number of bicyclists Chicago has increased and will continue to grow over the next few years as more people view biking as a healthier, earth-friendly alternative as opposed to driving to work and dealing with surging fuel prices and parking fees. Cycling, however, comes with its own set of hazards. Every cyclists out on the street are more vulnerable than motorists and while many factors pose as dangerous conditions for cyclists such as  bad street designs or reckless drivers, bike-related crashes come down to one important but slightly overlooked issue – visibility.  With the increase of bicyclists, attorney Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. has noticed more bicycle crash cases involving serious injuries.

Many drivers gripe about not seeing cyclists from a distance resulting in crashes. For many behind the wheel, the bikers seem to appear out of nowhere. While Chicago personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer, of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. believes drivers should pay close attention while driving, bikers can do their part in preventing accidents by simply wearing the right clothing so as to be more conspicuous on the road. Dr. Tyrell of Clemson University conducted an experiment demonstrating the effects of different styles of clothing on a cyclist. For instance, a cyclist wearing fluorescent leggings was discernible from three times farther away than average compared to the cyclist garbed in solid black leggings. Another potent and inexpensive tool to maximize visibility are flashing taillights. The same study found that from a distance of 200 meters, flashing taillights are more effective at catching observers’ eyes than an always-on taillight.

Bike-share bikes usually have the proper equipment installed such as Laserlight which is more visible to drivers during daytime. This is especially powerful because even when there is significant reduction of visibility during nighttime, 60% of crashes occur during daytime. It is projected that the likelihood of bike-related accidents are bound to decrease with the rise of ridership but safety is something that cyclists can claim for themselves, starting with the right gear.  Appropriate gear can mean the difference between life and death or life and life-altering injuries.

Walking has morphed from a healthier alternative, that’s kinder to the environment, into a dangerous activity with a total of over 5,987 pedestrian deaths in the United States in the year 2016 alone.   As dismal as that sounds, pedestrian deaths have been surging over the past decade.  Chicago, in particular, has incurred 44 pedestrian deaths in 2016, up 26 percent since 2014.  Within that time, several reasons, some of them particularly glaring, have come to light. Poor infrastructure, bad road designs, distractions in the form of smart phones, to name a few, have been named culprits in the growth of pedestrian deaths.

Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer agrees that the abovementioned reasons are still ongoing issues that need to be addressed properly, however a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has unearthed new statistics highlighting the connection between SUVs and pedestrian deaths. As it turns out, among all types of vehicles, SUVs accounted for an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities. SUVs, with their size, built and horsepower can inflict worse injuries to the head and chest than any other type of vehicle. Hampton Clay Gabler, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, wrote in a school paper that SUVs and pickups tend to be tall compared with pedestrians and have a blunter front end. That positioning is more likely to put someone’s head or chest in line to be struck during the initial impact with a vehicle. All the more concerning is that SUVs have surpassed sedans as the best selling vehicles in the US market, up to forty percent in 2017, which puts more pedestrians at risk.

The automobile industry has been slow to respond but many of them are making moves towards the creation of more vehicle safety features and incorporating them in their fleet.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. note that advanced automatic braking has been gaining popularity with brands like Tesla, Volvo and Mercedez Benz making this life-saving feature a standard in all of their models. Others like Chrysler and Ford only have a percentage of their fleet with this technology. As with most introduction to new technologies, there is the initial resistance but if auto companies commit and adapt to these changes and motorists are more educated, we can delve a blow to the tragic trajectory of pedestrian deaths in the future and protect the most vulnerable members of our population.