The National Highway Traffic Administration has recently posted the latest traffic fatality figures and they show deadly car crashes rising to a nine-year high. The statistics show that car accidents accounted for 37,461 fatalities in 2016 which is a rise of 5.6% over 2015. Personal Injury lawyer Peter Zneimer notes that surprisingly, distracted driving deaths actually fell 2.2% from 2015 to 2016. Two categories where fatalities did rise were deaths caused by speeding (4% rise) and deaths caused by not wearing seat belts (4.6% rise). The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. are concerned that the NHTA recorded a 9% jump in pedestrian deaths. The large jump in pedestrian deaths underscore the need for more focus on making urban areas safer for pedestrians. As discussed in previous Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. blogs, the city of Chicago has endorsed the Vision Zero initiative which is a movement that seeks to eliminate pedestrian deaths entirely. Cities that are adopting the vision zero philosophy utilize technology, traffic engineering along an emphasis of enforcing traffic safety laws to reach this goal. Pedestrians are the category of people that are most vulnerable to injury from traffic accidents.
You want to go for a walk or a run along a road that has a shoulder but no sidewalk and you cannot decide whether to walk or run with traffic or against traffic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Transportation Department and the personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. recommend walking or running against traffic.
A recent Chicago Tribune article takes note of a study undertook in Finland that looked at data from 2006 to 2010 involving 258 pedestrians being hit by cars. The study concluded that facing traffic when walking is significantly safer than walking with traffic. The study found that pedestrians facing traffic had a 77 percent lower risk of being hit and injured by a car than pedestrians walking with traffic.
The reasons appear to be obvious. When a pedestrian is facing on coming traffic, the pedestrian can see and react to the motorist. If the motorist is distracted by texting or by talking on the phone and is driving near the shoulder, or if the motorist is sleepy and is weaving and drifting near the shoulder, the pedestrian can react by getting farther from the roadway when the car is passing. Attorney, Peter Zneimer has handled an injury case where a runner was hit from behind by a car while running on the shoulder with the victim receiving no warning whatsoever. In that situation, the runner would have been much safer facing traffic when running which would have enabled him to watch for cars driving near the shoulder and to take defensive measures when necessary.
The first section of the Lakefront Trail separation project has been completed from 31st Street to 41st. The separation project will provide separate paths for bikers and pedestrians along the 18 mile trail. The Chicago Tribune reports that the two-year project will stretch from Ardmore street to 71st Street and will cost $12 million dollars with money provided by billionaire Ken Griffin.
Personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer who is a frequent user of the trail notes that a safety upgrade was badly needed. Bikers, traveling at all speeds negotiate the trail around joggers, walkers, baby-strollers, roller bladders, along with many people just crossing the path to get to the lake front. In fact, according the Active Transportation Alliance, an estimated 100,000 people use the trail on weekends during the summer.
It is no surprise that there have been many collisions on the Lakefront Trail between bikers and pedestrians and between bikers and other bikers. Many of these collisions have resulted in serious injuries and even fatalities. People even bring small children just learning to ride a bike onto the trail seemly oblivious to the dangers on the trail. Perhaps one of the greatest dangers on the trial are bicyclists who insist on pedaling at recklessly high speeds totally heedless to the fact that there are a large number of inattentive children and adults present who may wander into their path at any time. The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hope that the separated lanes may reduce injuries from collisions on the trail.
On June 12, 2017, Chicago Mayor Emanuel introduced a plan aimed at completely eliminating traffic fatalities in the City of Chicago by 2026. The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer applaud the ambitious goals of the plan.
Following principles of the International Vision Zero movement, the Mayor has directed City department agencies to develop an action plan that based on traffic crash data. Vision Zero plans have also been adopted in many European cities, such as Stockholm, Berlin and Rotterdam along with many American cities such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Part of the focus of the movement is to treat traffic injuries and fatalities as a pressing public health problem. The Mayor’s office points that more than 2,000 people are killed or seriously injured in Chicago every year. Chicago personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer can attest to the devastating impact a serious injury or death related to a traffic accident can have on a person and his or her family. The loss of income and the medical bills that result from an injury victim injuries are bad enough. Many victims are left with life altering disabilities that they must bear for the rest of their lives.
The Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. first addressed this issue last June, specifically discussing the risk of injury along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. Since last year, the controversy over whether to implement a more defined design approach, which divides paths and trails based upon user type has continued to be a highly debated topic. Ongoing concerns over trail congestion and user safety prompted the Active transportation Alliance’s December 2014 petition, urging Chicago leaders and officials to consider enhanced pavement markings and separate paths for bicyclists and pedestrians in the trail’s most congested areas.
If you live in the Chicagoland area, you’d have to live under a rock, not to notice the variations and diversity amongst the types of road users that occupy communities. Traveling alongside cars, motorcycles, commercial trucks, and public transit vehicles, are commuting bicyclists and pedestrians; delivery/courier pedacyclists; and resident or tourist recreationalists, whether runners, joggers, walkers, moms with strollers, or children at play. Chicago has long recognized its need to account for its road-user diversity, the result of which has led to more marked and/or barrier separated bike lanes, increased enforcement in intersections and along sidewalks, as well as the construction of paths and trails that create throughways to increase accessibility and improve safety. However, as we push for more use of the pathways and trails, which are intended to protect vulnerable road users, another safety issue has begun to rear its ugly head, and increasingly so—that is, pathway and trail accidents.
The Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of two lawsuits filed in connection with last month’s truck crash that took the lives of three pedestrians—30-year-old Elizabeth Peralta-Luna, and her two children, 4-year-old Dylan Peralta and 9-year-old Elizabeth Peralta—as they were attempting to cross a busy intersection on Chicago’s South Side.
The Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the alarming number of accidents involving pedestrians that have taken place throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area this month. Nearly every one of the victims in these incidents suffered fatal injuries, demonstrating the high risk of death for a victim that is struck by a vehicle in a pedestrian accident. Even more disturbing, is that many of these crashes involved motorists that made the callous and heartless decision to flee the scene, and leave their victim to die, rather than stopping to render assistance.
The Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a promising new campaign developed for the purpose of promoting awareness, as well as pushing for increased funding, to improve intersection safety for pedestrians in the Chicagoland Area. The campaign is based upon a compilation of recent crash data, including factors such as location, time-of-day, age of victim, and types of injuries sustained in pedestrian crossing-related incidents. As injury lawyers, we support campaign efforts, and hope that residents of our communities will do the same.
The Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a concerning problem that continues to plague those that travel by foot in the Chicago area-crosswalk safety. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, pedestrian fatalities in Chicago were more than double the nationwide average in 2012. Many of these fatalities occurred at pedestrian crossings. As Accident & Injury Lawyers, we find this highly troubling, particularly given the 2010 revisions to right-of-way laws in Illinois, which many expected would have significantly enhanced the safety of pedestrians throughout the city.
As suggested by an article in the Chicago Tribune, failure to comply with pedestrian crossing laws can at least, in part, be attributed to drivers’ unawareness of the law, as it was revised in 2010. Under the old law, drivers were only required to yield to pedestrians. However, in finding that this yield-only requirement was a law that was difficult to interpret, as well as difficult to enforce, the state amended it in 2010 to include a provision requiring drivers to both stop and yield at crosswalks. The 2010 revisions to Illinois Vehicle Code regarding ‘Pedestrians’ right-of-way at crosswalks,’ as set forth in 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(a), provides that:
“When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”