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More macabre numbers for pedestrians as the Governors Highway Safety Association released on Thursday disturbing statistics regarding pedestrian deaths. According to the GHSA report, a total of 6,590 pedestrian lives were lost last year – the highest number in 30 years. (https://www.ghsa.org/resources/news-releases/pedestrians20.  The numbers speak for themselves and warrant intervention from everyone involved, including pedestrians themselves and spurs the question, how can walking claim so many lives?

Interestingly enough, there has been a steady decline of traffic casualties over the last few years. We have seen improvements in vehicles equipped with the latest crash avoidance and mitigation technology. Many US jurisdictions have implemented traffic safety programs, addressing poorly designed roadways and educating motorists on basic safety practices to prevent distracted driving, especially in the smartphone age. Why then are we seeing an uptick in pedestrian deaths? To Chicago personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., this comes as no surprise. It is important to note that most pedestrian deaths occur in metropolitan areas, where there is high foot traffic, as more people are willing to commute less and walk more. Metropolitan areas normally have a profuse nightlife, with many bars and entertainment venues, thereby increasing the likelihood of alcohol impairment in individuals walking the streets at night, in the dark. There is a proliferation of SUV’s on the streets, behemoth vehicles that as studies have shown in the past, accounted for an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities. These behemoth vehicles with their unforgiving higher front-end profile does not discriminate between walkers, joggers, the old and the young and have killed numerous, from the strong impact combined with the velocity at which the SUV was running. (https://www.chicagoaccidentlawyerblog.com/big-increase-in-pedestrian-deaths-linked-to-suvs/)

Vehicles will always win over pedestrians and cyclists, the latter of which has about a 2% share in all traffic related fatalities each year. Though the city of Chicago has embraced initiatives such as Vision Zero and recently, a proposal (https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2020/2/19/21143864/lori-lightfoot-bike-lanes-bus-crackdown)  to curb bad driving behaviors downtown like scofflaws parking in dedicated bus and bike lanes, the challenge to reduce pedestrian and cyclist death looms ahead.  The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer note that we have a long way to go.

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The Land of Lincoln greeted the year 2020 with the much sought-after legalization of recreational cannabis, becoming the 11th state to legalize the product. Dispensaries are struggling to keep up with the medical and recreational demand, selling $40 million dollars’ worth of legal weed in January alone.  Chicago dispensaries have long lines with people waiting to make purchases.  Indubitably, Illinois had a successful weed industry launch however, personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C.  notes that the question of impairment and the proper ways to determine it remains controversial in many circles, particularly in law enforcement.

People driving stoned and the methods employed to determine a driver’s impairment, is in its infancy and experimental stages, which is a struggle that law enforcement officials and legislators continue to deal with, even in states like Colorado where weed has been legal since 2014 (https://www.summitdaily.com/news/how-high-is-too-high-5-years-after-legalization-colorado-struggles-to-test-marijuana-impairment-for-drivers/) . While intoxication can be easily deduced from the smell or with the 12-step Sobriety Test, there is yet to be a standardized test designed to accurately measure weed impairment. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to drive high and if you test positive for five nanograms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per milliliter of blood, your driver’s license will be revoked  on top of potential criminal charges. Carol Stream Police Department has rolled out a saliva testing program to measure marijuana impairment (https://abc7chicago.com/5526516/). Police officers are using an mLife Diagnostics manufactured device to determine the presence of THC. This sounds easy enough, but the problem lies in the body’s extended retention of THC as opposed to alcohol which the body eliminates faster.  Whether you are an avid smoker or not, THC stays in your body for weeks even after the high has worn off, which means should your saliva get tested, it will produce a positive result but a positive result is not necessarily tantamount to impairment.   Since science has not fully caught up with the popularity of weed use, police officers cannot merely rely on the device’s detection of THC. They can only use it as evidence to support probable cause to arrest the person. The police officer must make the final determination for impairment. https://herald-review.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/illinois-police-want-to-know-who-s-driving-while-stoned/article_0e4c663d-8e4b-5d54-aac3-3c7a251b07a4.html

The effects of THC include an increased sense of well-being or euphoria, relaxation, slowed psycho-motor response, an altered sense of time, short term memory impairment and impairment of multi-tasking performance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found in 2016, that 38% of fatally injured drivers in the country, tested positive for marijuana  https://herald-review.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/illinois-police-want-to-know-who-s-driving-while-stoned/article_0e4c663d-8e4b-5d54-aac3-3c7a251b07a4.html. Personal injury attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. can see the likelihood of this percentage increasing if more people who have ready access to weed are unable to ascertain their own impairment and take the wheel. Not only that, weed smokers who are stopped on the road suspected for impairment, may not willingly submit to being swabbed. Despite the murkiness of marijuana impairment, the real responsibility lies on weed users and to drive sober.

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Everyday, Chicago drivers navigate busy streets that are flooded with other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians – all hurriedly trying to get to their final destination. And one maneuver drivers often make places everyone who shares the road in a tricky, and sometimes dangerous, situation – making a left turn.

Nationally, nearly 180 pedestrians die annually after being struck by a vehicle making a left turn. Peter Zneimer, personal injury attorney at Zneimer & Zneimer PC in Chicago, notes that these accidents can occur even though all traffic signals are obeyed – the turning driver has a green light at the same time pedestrians have the walk light. Before making the turn, the driver has to quickly consider when the light will turn, whether the oncoming lanes are clear, and if pedestrians are in the car’s blind spot (not to mention the distracting honks coming from the car behind). These split-second considerations make up what is called the “driver workload,” according to Jeff Shaw, the Intersections Program Manager for the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Safety.

One factor of the driver workload is gauging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic, and often times drivers speed through the intersection to make it before light turns red. This acceleration is a primary reason why left turns are more deadly for pedestrians than right turns. Another factor contributing to the driver workload is a vehicle’s blind spot, specifically the car frame’s A-pillars. A-pillars, or windshield pillars, block a driver’s view of the road. The driver must break out of her normal field of vision to check for objects like pedestrians that may be positioned within these blind spots, which may pose a risk to hazards that may appear within the driver’s normal field of vision while she is performing the check. According to Dr. Matthew Reed, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, “When we compare the data, we find that drivers could see more outside their vehicles in the 1980s than they can now.” Many modern vehicles have wider A-pillars, and bigger blind spots as a result. One nationwide company has devised an innovative solution to dealing with the danger of left turns – it doesn’t do them!

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Biking advocates are pushing for the city to recommit to its goal to make biking safer after the recent deaths of three cyclists. Although Chicago has a reputation for bicycling and was named the top city for bicycling in 2016, the city has averaged 5.5 deaths of cyclists per year since 2012.

In 2012, the city adopted a plan to build more protected bike lanes across a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways by 2020. Although Chicago initially pursued this plan by building or upgrading 116.25 miles of bike lanes between 2012 to 2015, the pace of bike lane construction has fallen significantly. Since 2015, the city added merely 66.4 miles of bike lanes, and only 8.5 of those miles were protected. Yet in this time (from 2012 to 2018), 5.5 bicyclists were killed per year in the city.

In 2017, in the wake of a “right hook” incident where a bicyclist was killed after a truck that was traveling in the same direction turned in front of her and trapped her under the truck’s wheels, bike advocates effectively lobbied city officials to pass an ordinance requiring the city’s truck fleet to be equipped with convex mirrors and side guards – to prevent someone from falling under the truck’s wheels – by 2026. This ordinance also requires trucks operated by companies with city contracts to implement these changes by 2021.

Smartphones are almost indispensable in one’s day-to-day; you can see adult hands holding them and eyes as young as five years old affixed to them.  Waiting rooms all over the world are filled with the motionless, hunched figures of people in the secure company of their phones. The extent to which the general population depends on the phone is dramatic; some would go so far as to say, their whole lives are IN their phone. What we may overlook in our obsession with it, are the actual lives at stake when we abuse the phone. It is a personal injury matter when innocent acts of texting, mindless scrolling or calling endanger lives and kill people.

Using your phone while driving is one of the many common forms of distracted driving and it is lethal. Many tragedies have resulted from distracted driving and it has been outlawed in many states including Illinois.  Personal injury attorney Peter Zneimer is more than aware of the dangers distracted driving poses to the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike. One way to curb this type of distracted driving is through the adoption of a new technology called “Textalyzer”, developed by Israeli mobile forensics company, Cellebrite. A grieving New York father, Ben Lieberman, has urged Chicago’s City Counsel’s Public Safety Committee to consider this technology so as to prevent senseless accidents from happening. He has lost his 19 year old son himself from a distracted driver who was never prosecuted. The Textalyzer acts the way a Breathalyzer acts for intoxicated drivers. The idea is for law enforcers to determine if a driver was swiping, scrolling etc. with his phone minutes before a crash, with the use of Textalyzer.

It is relatively new and will have hurdles to jump through due to privacy concerns but past that, the Textalyzer has serious potential to save lives and give more accountability to motorists.

Cook County’s attempts to mitigate the black hole debt it is in has at times, taken dark turns, such as the 321 layoffs announced last month, to somewhat comical, as in the new proposal to fine pedestrians for “distracted walking”.  Aldermen Ed Burke (14th ward) and Anthony Beale (9th ward) justify this proposed ordinance on deficient grounds by citing 27 pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017.  While these figures are tragic, there is scant data to prove that distracted walking caused these deaths. Mimicking the successful passing of a similar law in Honolulu, this proposal came guised as concern for general public safety, but ultimately, fails to see the bigger picture.

Chicago personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer, knows that distracted pedestrians, though problematic, are the least of this city’s worries and fining them is not the answer. All focus should be directed instead to promoting street safety for everyone on the street – motorists, bikers and pedestrians alike. Sustainable initiatives such as Vision Zero are already underway to reduce the occurrence of serious injuries and fatalities.  It is a more prudent, long-term approach as compared to issuing fines of up to $500 to a “distracted” pedestrian. The plan is broad in scope and calls on ordinary citizens, law enforcers and the government to act more responsibly. It involves adding more pedestrian islands or refuges and bike paths and the implementation of policies geared towards the creation of safer vehicles and safer professional drivers.

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The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. have handled many dog bite cases and most are governed by the Illinois Animal Control Act.  Historically, under common law,  a dog was allowed “one free bite;” which meant that a dog owner was not liable for injuries caused by a bite if that dog had never bit anyone else.  More recently, the law has evolved so that a dog owner will only be liable if he if his negligence caused the injury.  The “one free bite” rule and negligence standard are common in many jurisdictions throughout the country, but not in Illinois.  Illinois is one of the few states that have passed laws that apply strict liability to dog owners whose dog bites a victim.  The Illinois law is helpful to victims of dog bites and now Illinois ranks second to California, in the number of dog bite claims brought per year.

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As the city of Chicago’s way of advancing its commitment to prioritizing traffic safety, it created a comprehensive plan called Vision Zero. It is spearheaded by Mayor  Rahm Emanuel and was modeled after a road traffic safety project that began in Sweden and has since influenced many U.S cities, many of which have adopted it.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation 2010-2014, someone dies every three days as a result of a traffic crash. Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer believes that Vision Zero will help in reducing traffic-related deaths and serious injuries.  This city has seen an alarming increase of bicycle crashes by 67% last year, based on data from the Chicago Police Department. Vision Zero seeks to lessen this number, while encouraging more people to walk, bike and take public transit.

Chicago is already the national leader on Complete Streets that largely focuses on pedestrian safety, designing streets that are intended to promote a culture of safety especially for the most vulnerable roadway users.  Vision Zero will take it further by studying how the design process can be integrated into determining the correct speed limits for each street in every community. It calls on law enforcement to focus on so-called high-crash areas.  The Mayor is seeking funding to carry out these goals.

Jay Caldwell, a physician living in Tucson, Arizona, and his wife, Diana, a retired professor of English, were flying first-class from Chicago to Tucson on American Airlines Flight 1521 on June 13.

On the flight, they were fed well. He said his meal was amazing, consisting of four courses: a salad, an appetizer, a choice of entree and a dessert. The dessert was an ice cream sundae with cheesecake crumbles and raspberry syrup.

While he was eating his delicious dessert, he had a crunchy feeling in his mouth, but he did not know what it was at first. “I couldn’t have broken a tooth,” he thought. “I’m not chewing anything.”

As previously mentioned in our last post, the pit bull attack on Chicago resident Joseph Finley has caused quite the controversy. Per the Chicago Red Eye, it has sparked a conflict between Chicago dog owners, and residents who feel attacks such as this are reason enough to ban dog breeds such as pit bulls from the city limits. It has left our city divided. Everywhere you go, someone has an opinion on the matter. Even users of the popular social networking site facebook.com have begun circulating a petition not to ban pit bulls in Chicago. It is targeted toward Ward 2 Alderman Robert W. Fioretti and has a goal of 1000 signatures, but is already nearly 3000 strong.


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already has several ordinances in effect to impose penalties on irresponsible dog owners. Some of which include the leash ordinance, the dangerous animal ordinance, and the bite ordinance. A little more about the leash ordinance after the jump.

According to The Anti-Cruelty Society, in Chicago and many of its’ surrounding suburbs, the owner of a dog must restrain his or her animal by a leash, crate, cage or vehicle, or keep it confined on the owner’s premises. In other words, it is illegal for the animal to be outside the owners property lines without the proper confinement (leash), unless the animal is at a dog park.