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As you probably already know, there are a lot of car accidents here in Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 76,352 crashes reported in 2012 for which damage to any one person’s property totaled between $501 and $1,500. There are also a lot of fatal auto accidents here in Illinois. Also according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 886 fatal car crashes resulting in 956 fatalities in 2012 alone. With all of these reported car accidents, some common causes stand out.

Common Causes of Auto Accidents

Here is a quick non-exclusive list of common causes of car accidents. This list also explains how you may avoid these common causes.

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Earlier this month, two individuals were driving northbound on Fosterburg Road in Alton, Illinois. During their commute, an oncoming southbound vehicle drifted into their lane, hitting them head on. Witnesses say that the at-fault driver was texting while driving. The passengers in the northbound car sustained serious injuries including, but not limited to, broken toes, a shattered hip, broken ribs, fractured sternum, and fractured vertebrae. The southbound driver received citations for improper lane usage and illegal use of a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle.

Do not text and drive, it is against the Law!

As you may already know, it is against the law to text and drive here in Illinois. Per Illinois’ statute 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2, a person shall not drive a vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to either compose, send, or even read an electronic message. A personal cellphone is one of the items Illinois identifies as an “electronic communication device”.

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Picture this: you are driving along the road when you are suddenly involved in an auto accident, a horrible one. Suppose you incur a lot of medical expense and miss work for several weeks. The damages are extravagant. Now suppose the court finds that you were partially at fault for the accident and rule that you are not entitled to compensation!

The above scenario would hold true in five states, but, luckily, not here in Illinois. Illinois uses a comparative fault approach negligence claims/cases. We will delve into this concept below. First, however, if you are injured from a car accident at the fault of another person, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney for your case.

Illinois’ Comparative Fault Act
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Drowsy driving is a common cause of car accidents. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that there are about 328,000 car accidents every year that result from drowsy or fatigued drivers. These accidents are often serious and sometimes even fatal. The National Transportation Safety Board found that drowsy driving there are between 4,000 and 7,000 deaths, per year, caused by drowsy driving! According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in Illinois, there were 927 traffic fatalities in 2014, alone.

Drowsy driving is also a major problem right here in Illinois. As a matter of fact, Illinois is one of only five states that references drowsy on their crash forms! If you or someone you love is injured from an auto accident at the fault of another person, it is important that you retain an experienced attorney for your case.

How to Avoid Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel
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After you are injured in a car accident, you need to take decisive steps in order to be fairly and fully compensated for your accident. As a driver or passenger, you need to be well informed regarding what to do after an accident happens, because car accidents continue to happen with alarming frequency in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety issued reports indicating the number of crashes in each county of Illinois for 2013 . These statistics are illustrated in the following table indicating the number of car accidents in Cook County and collar counties.
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Teen driver fatalities in Illinois are down sharply since 2007, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White credits the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing program that he championed in 2008 as a key factor.

There were 155 teen driving accident deaths in 2007 and 71 teen driving accident fatalities in 2013, according to Illinois Department of Transportation figures that White cited Oct. 20 for the kickoff of National Teen Driver Safety Week.

The legislation implemented stricter teen driver provisions:
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Using a cell phone while driving is convenient, but research has shown that “text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.” In Illinois, crashes due to inattentive driving led to a law against the practice in January, 2013.

The following January, the legislature banned all hand-held use, and all cell phone use while in construction or school zones, with fines for violation ranging from $75 to $500 across the state. Police have been issuing tickets in increasing volumes – for example, State Troopers issued 1,222 in the first quarter of 2013 and 3,307 for the same period in 2014. However, the practice continues, in part because police have had difficulty enforcing the ban.

Now those who rely on hand held devices while driving should be on notice: a Virginia company called ConSonics says it is developing a new tool to make police enforcement of the hand-held ban much easier.

ConSonics already provides police with the radar-guns that detect speeding violations. A company spokesman described the new tool as a similar device that would allow police to detect the signature frequencies of text messaging or cell phone use based on the frequencies emanating from a passing car.

The technology is already used by cable repair workers who must find cable damage in walls – for example, where rodents have gnawed through wires, disrupting frequencies. The company says the device is “close to production.”
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A car accident that causes serious injury and death is never good news. Still, high profile accidents can help bring attention to important issues of public safety. This is certainly true for the recent accident in New Jersey that left one comedian dead and seriously injured others, including Tracy Morgan-well-known former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and supporting actor in the sitcom, “30 Rock.”

In the aftermath of this accident, which left Mr. Morgan with numerous broken bones and in intensive care, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against the driver of a Wal-Mart truck. According to the complaint, when the truck smashed into Mr. Morgan’s limo, its driver had been awake for over 24 hours. And since this accident, numerous national media outlets-including The New York Times, Forbes, and The Huffington Post-have shed much-needed light on the scourge of drowsy driving.

A Common Problem

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is responsible for over 100,000 car accidents every year, which lead to 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. Perhaps even more shockingly, a 2002 report by the same agency revealed that over 1/3 of all drivers nod off or fall asleep at least once behind the wheel at some point in their driving careers.
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Distraction can be a dangerous thing, and our young drivers are suffering most of all. In fact, drivers in their 20s make up a staggering 27% of all distracted drivers in fatal car accidents. The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that thousands of people are killed each year in distraction-related crashes, and approximately 424,000 additional people are injured. This number has been steadily rising, and that is a cause for serious concern, especially with technology becoming more and more a part of our drive.

Distracted driving includes any activity that has the potential to divert your attention away from the road when driving. We often have dozens of things to distract us in our vehicles at any one time. It is important to communicate the facts about distracted driving to loved ones and young drivers, to ensure that the next generation understands the responsibility they have as drivers and tech-users.

Here are a few quick facts about distracted driving to get the ball rolling:
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If Punxsutawney Phil is to be believed, spring temperatures will soon be on the way, and that means that people all over the City of Chicago will soon be emerging from their homes to enjoy the warming weather and longer days. With this in mind, our lawyers want to remind you that individuals living in urban populations make up approximately 70% of all pedestrian car accident fatalities nationwide. While it is impossible to totally guarantee one’s safety in the constantly shifting urban environment, following these pedestrian safety recommendations can significantly decrease your chance of becoming a victim. (NHTSA)
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