Articles Posted in Aggressive Driving

Labor Day weekend is right around the corner, which means that millions of families will be hitting the road, celebrating, and spending time with their loved ones. According to a Peoria Journal Star article, statistics from the American Automobile Association (AAA) claim that 1.8 million people are expected to travel on Illinois roadways this holiday weekend. This is an increase of 2.6% over the previous year.

Accordingly, the opportunities for the “fatal four” to rear their ugly heads will increase as well. The fatal four, as Illinois officials call them, are the four most common factors that contribute to deadly car accidents. Drinking while driving, not wearing a seat belt, breaking the speed limit, and driving while distracted comprise the fatal four. Our Illinois car accident attorneys recognize the importance of watching out for the fatal four, especially considering that Illinois has seen a noticeable rise in fatal accidents in 2012.

As such, holidays similar to Labor Day require special attention. Holidays generally are the time of year when people are traveling and drinking the most, or generally have a lot going on in their lives. These factors add up to a lot of stress, potentially poor decisions, and undesired consequences. For example, last year in Illinois nine people died in traffic accidents over Labor Day weekend. Since 2007, 62 people have died on Illinois roads over the holiday weekend, 33% of which were alcohol-related. A Lieutenant from the Peoria Police Department summed it up best when he said “Any distance is too far (to drive) if you’ve had a drink.”
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Our Chicago car accident attorneys recently read a report detailing the death of two teenagers last month after what authorities say was a street racing accident. Chicagotribune.com states that the accident occurred at 2am in the 14000 block of David Road in an unincorporated area near Woodstock, Illinois. Police say two 16-year old girls were driving in a street race and lost control of their vehicle, causing it to travel off the roadway, roll over, and strike a tree and a concrete post. Despite the teens wearing seatbelts and the car’s airbags deploying, both were pronounced dead at the scene.

After further investigation, police have determined that another driver, a 20-year old man of Woodstock, had met with the teens shortly before the accident to arrange the street race. The report states that although the man’s vehicle did not collide with the teens’ vehicle before it crashed, the man left the scene without attempting to help the girls, calling 911, or reporting the accident in any way. The McHenry County Sheriff’s department released that the man was arrested this week and charged with failure to report a fatal traffic accident and aggravated street racing.

As Illinois car accident lawyers, we understand the dangers and hazards that are created by street racing and want to urge drivers to refrain from this activity. For many, street racing seems like a thrill, ranging from spontaneous racing with another vehicle to largely organized events. However, accidents caused by street racing generally happen in a matter of seconds, making it difficult to comprehend the situation until it is too late. As the speed of a vehicle increases, so does the risk of an accident, as well as the risk of an injury or a fatality occurring. Not only are you putting yourself in danger by street racing, but other motorists and pedestrians on the roadway can be greatly affected as well. In recent years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that street racing has become a factor in approximately 130 fatal crashes each year. In 2011, over 300 street racing accidents took place, with many citations, injuries, and fatalities as a result.
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According to an online news report by Chicagotribune.com, bail has been set at $3 million for a West Side man charged with reckless homicide for the deadly hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of a Cook County correctional officer. Our Chicago car accident lawyers read that the 38-year old officer was about to begin her overnight shift at the maximum security division of Cook County Jail on July 18th when she was struck by a van while crossing California Avenue near 29th Street around 11pm. Authorities say the van hit the officer and threw her into the middle of the road, where she was then pinned by a sheriff’s squad car. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Police say the driver of the van, a 57 year-old man of the 2900 block of West 25th Street, was taken into custody the following day after police found his van, which matched the description of the vehicle that hit the officer. He admitted to driving on California Avenue the night of the accident and “admitted to hitting something.” Police also talked to someone who told them he had seen the driver drinking alcohol Wednesday night prior to the accident. A judge later set the $3 million bail and ordered the driver to return to court on Monday for a preliminary hearing. Dozens of Cook County correctional officers packed into court for the hearing, saddened by death of the wife and mother of a 6 year-old girl, who had worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s office as a correctional officer for 12 years.

Illinois Secretary of State records show that Bello’s driver’s license was revoked in 2010 from a DUI arrest the previous year. After finally becoming eligible to appear at an administrative hearing to attempt getting his license back, he never applied, according to an office spokesman. Thus, he continued to drive despite the fact his license had been revoked. Bello had received court supervision for a 2002 DUI from LaSalle County, was issued a speeding ticket in 2008, and received a ticket for running a traffic light in 1999. The correctional officer’s husband stated that Bello driving on a revoked license added to the pain because he should not have been behind the wheel in the first place.

Our Illinois car accident attorneys learned that the driver was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident and reckless homicide. He was also cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian, driving too fast for conditions, and driving on a revoked license. An assistant Cook County State’s Attorney stated he “had no regard for following the law” and “presents a clear and present danger” to other pedestrians and motorists.
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As of recently, there have been many important changes made on Illinois roadways that our Chicago car accident attorneys believe all motorists should be aware of while driving. On Friday, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed four new laws to improve road safety throughout the state by reducing speeding and distracted driving.

Chicago.cbslocal.com states that most publicized law signed is named “Julie’s Law,” named after a 17 year-old Orland Park teen who lost her life last year after being struck by a speeding driver traveling 76mph in a 40mph zone. The governor was joined by legislators, community leaders, and families of crash victims to enact the law, which prohibits courts from granting supervision to any defendant charged with operating a vehicle at a speed greater than 30mph over the posted speed limit on highways, or in excess of 25 mph in urban districts. “Our daughter Julie represents how unsafe everyone’s child and loved ones are out on the roads when excessive speeders, who often repeatedly offend and use loopholes in the laws to escape with minimal if any consequences,” the teen’s mother says. Illinois State Police Troopers believe stiffer penalties will help keep the behavior from becoming a habit. The law is effective July 1st, 2013.

Our Illinois car accident lawyers read that Quinn also signed additional laws to improve traffic safety. One of these laws, effective January 1st, 2013, prohibits the use of cell phones in all roadway work and construction zones, which Quinn hopes will prevent distracted driving and increase protection for work crews. This law is an expansion of a previous law that only prohibited cell phone use in work zones with speed limit reductions. Another piece of legislation signed by Quinn bans motorists from using cell phones when driving within 500 feet of an emergency scene. Thus, talking and taking photos of the scene is prohibited, effective immediately. Finally, the Illinois Vehicle Code has been brought into compliance with federal regulations and prohibits motor vehicle operators from using cell phones or engaging in texting while driving, both being considered as “serious traffic violations.” This law is effective January 1st, 2013.
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A wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of an 86-year-old woman who was hit by a taxi when crossing a crosswalk, reports The Chicago Tribune. She died from her injuries two days later. According to an eyewitness, the taxi driver “just plowed into her and ran her down like she wasn’t even there.” Another eyewitness remarked, “He just hit her.” In the suit, the driver is being accused of negligence and the family is seeking more than $100,000 in damages from each defendant. Yellow Cab Affiliation Inc. is also named in the suit.

The taxi driver, consequently, was charged for “failure to use due care when a pedestrian is present, and…for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.” However, the driver was only fined $325 and placed under court supervision. The family of the 86-year-old woman, who filed the suit, says that this is not acceptable. The brother of the deceased was reported as saying, “It’s kind of an outrage that he’s still on the street.”

As our Illinois car accident attorneys understand it, the driver has a very spotty record when it comes too responsible driving. According to a CBS Chicago article, the taxi driver has accumulated nearly 70 traffic tickets since 1999. In court, the taxi driver said that he did not feel his record was an adequate basis for claiming he is a bad driver. The judge dismissed the driver’s arguments and he was found guilty for his actions.

Unfortunately, accidents like this one are all too common. Pedestrian accidents make up 11 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, according to U.S. government statistics. Additionally, a 2009 policy report in Connecticut showed that the taxicab accident rate is more than quadruple times the accident rate for normal passenger vehicles.
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This past May, a Skokie woman hit a nine-year boy with her car, causing him to slide out into oncoming traffic, ultimately taking his life. Our Chicago car accident attorneys discussed the issues at hand in a previous blog post. The woman had been driving under the influence of drugs, namely marijuana and amphetamines.

In the blog post we discussed the role of drugs, distractions and negligence in car accidents. The accident highlighted some of the potential negligent actions and their subsequent consequences. In our remarks, we said that there would be serious consequences for all parties involved. To quote from the June 29th post, “In the case of the nine-year-old boy, he lost the potential for a long and prosperous life, while his family is experiencing emotional and financial stress. In the case of the woman who hit him, she is facing a lifetime of legal consequences that will surely curtail her future.”

Now, there have been some new developments in the case, as updated by a recent Chicago Tribune article, demonstrating just what we discussed. Apparently, the woman who hit the boy is pleading “not guilty” to some very serious charges. The charges include “a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs.” The judge overseeing the case also refused to lower her bond.
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Any experienced Chicago car accident lawyer will tell you that aggressive driving is one of the most prevalent forms of negligence involved in auto accident lawsuits. Recently updated statistics from an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study confirm this observation. According to the study, “from 2003 through 2007, a total of 192,069 fatal (automobile) crashes occurred in the United States…55.7% involved at least one driver who was coded as having committed at least one potentially-aggressive action.” Overwhelmingly, these accidents were single-vehicle or two-vehicle crashes.

Because there is no official definite definition of aggressive driving, data on the subject is usually collected in terms of particular driving behaviors and actions that are generally assumed to be aggressive. These include speeding, failure to yield to the right of way, reckless or erratic driving, disobeying traffic signs, and improper turning, passing, or following. Other such behaviors and actions include erratic lane changing, driving off-road, and racing.

Of the fatal crashes involving a potentially aggressive action, 30.7 percent included “speeding over the limit or too fast for the conditions.” This is a significant portion of the incidences, and frankly hits on one of the most common driving experiences people have with aggressive drivers. Almost anyone with some experience driving on the highway can recall a time when changing lanes for another car was more so a matter of “this driver will ram me down if I don’t move now” as opposed to simply being conscientious of other drivers.
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Earlier today, a Chicago accident lawyer at Levin & Perconti read a news report posted on Philly.com detailing a piece of legislation that has been signed by the state of New Jersey in an effort to help curb aggressive driving. Under the new law, aggressive drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury will be subject to the same criminal penalties as drivers who cause injury-resulting accidents while driving drunk. If an aggressive driver causes an accident resulting in minor injuries – they may be subject to 18 months in prison, all the while, if the aggressor causes an accident resulting in serious harm – the penalty may carry a five year prison sentence.

Our Chicago car accident attorneys learned that this piece of legislation stems from efforts made a 16-year-old victim of aggressive driving. The young woman was traveling with a group of friends in a passenger vehicle when another motor vehicle cut them off. The driver she was traveling with became angry and attempted to chase down the other vehicle. However, the vehicle ultimately crashed into a telephone pole – resulting in the immediate paralysis of the young woman from the chest down.

As a direct result of the accident, the young woman has had to undergo over two dozen surgeries, all the while; the aggressive driver of the vehicle she was traveling in only received a four month jail sentence. Shortly thereafter, the young woman began consulting state lawmakers on harsher sentences for aggressive drivers. Although it took roughly five years to enact the legislation, the bill was ultimately passed unanimously in both houses of Congress.

Earlier today, a Chicago accident lawyer at our office read a news report recounting a devastating aggressive driving accident that resulted in one fatality. According to the news report, posted on Tennessean.com, two men – ages 45 and 32 – have been charged with vehicular homicide, as well as, two counts of aggravated assault stemming from the March 23 death of one of the man’s wife and the injury or two others in a horrific motor vehicle accident.

The accident in question transpired around 5 p.m. on March 23, 2012, along an interstate highway where both of the party’s pick-up trucks were traveling. Our Chicago car accident attorney learned that witnesses as the scene revealed that one of the pickup trucks was traveling in front of another when the vehicle traveling ahead abruptly slammed on his breaks – in an apparent attempt to cause a rear-end collision. The second driver avoided collision and attempted to pass the other truck.

However, each pass attempt made by the second truck was blocked by the other truck. Ultimately, the two pick-up trucks collided – sending both motor vehicles into oncoming traffic. Both vehicles were subsequently crashed into by two oncoming passenger vehicles. As a result of the accident, all drivers involved in the crash were seriously injured and the wife of one of the pick-up truck drivers succumbed to her fatal injuries.

Our Chicago car accident lawyers recently read on STLToday.com an article about a drunk driver who was driving the wrong-way on a highway, which resulted in a head on collision. The driver was driving south in a northbound lane, and collided head on with a car driving north. The accident resulted in serious injuries for both drivers.

Wrong-way driving is an extremely dangerous situation that we often see happen on highways around Chicago. Wrong-way driving occurs when someone is driving in the wrong direction in one lane, regardless of if it is a two way street, or one-way street. One of the main causes of people driving the wrong-way on roads is because they are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Another common cause of wrong-way driving occurs when people are getting on or off the freeway. Because freeway exits can be tricky and confusing, it is really important to make sure that when driving, the motorist makes sure they are entering or exiting in the correct direction. Also, when drivers are navigating in areas that they are not familiar with, particularly metropolitan areas with one way streets, they can easily become confused and end up driving the wrong-way down the street. If this should happen, the driver should safely pull over to the side of the road, sort out their directions, and turn around when possible.

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