Articles Posted in Legislation-Illinois

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An Illinois man convicted in the aggravated speeding case that resulted in the death of a teenage girl in 2011 was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this week.

According to a follow up article from the Orland Park subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune, investigators from the Orland Park Police Department determined that the driver, now 22 years old, was going nearly twice the posted 40 mile per hour speed limit when he struck the passenger side of a Jeep turning in front of him.

Julie Gorczynski, the passenger of the Jeep, was just a week shy of her 18th birthday, and had graduated from high school earlier in the week.

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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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As many people know, this summer has brought almost every region of the United States record high temperatures, humidity, and dangerous heat advisories. Staying cool during these times is critical, as failing to do so can result in serious injury and damage to one’s health. A Chicago auto accident attorney at our firm was surprised to read a report about a woman who recently left her child in her car while the temperature was ninety degrees outside. Joliet.patch.com reports that the ten-year-old girl was left unattended in the parked car outside of Jewel on North Larkin Avenue while the driver went grocery shopping. Joliet police say that an officer checking to make sure the fire lanes in front of the store were clear spotted the car illegally parked in the fire lane. When the officer looked closer, he saw that the car was running and the little girl was inside. When he spoke with the girl, she told him she had been waiting there for a long time.

The report states that the 23 year-old driver was later ticketed for leaving the girl in the vehicle while she went shopping. According to police, this had been the sixth time last week that someone had been charged with leaving a child, dog, or a combination of both in a car, sometimes with temperatures higher than ninety degrees with the car windows closed.

Our Illinois auto accident attorneys and many others understand that leaving children unattended in or around vehicles is a serious problem, especially during the summertime. According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids USA, children left unattended in hot cars, trucks, vans, and SUV’s account for 24% of fatalities. More than one thousand cases involving injury or death have been documented so far, most being caused by hyperthermia (heat stroke). The average number of U.S child hyperthermia fatalities per year since 1998 is 38, creating a total of 539 cases up until 2012. These fatalities occur under the circumstances of either a caregiving simply “forgetting” their child in their car, a child being left to play in an unattended vehicle, or a child intentionally being left in a vehicle. The ages of these children ranges from 5 days to 14 years old, but more than half of fatalities are children under 2 years of age. Only eighteen states have laws prohibiting leaving a child unattended in a vehicle; Illinois is thankfully one of them.
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According to an online news report by Carmitimes.com, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has begun making efforts to help reduce roadway fatalities in Illinois this year. Our Chicago car accident lawyers read that starting July 9th, IDOT began a statewide digital message board campaign in conjunction with social media and Internet page presence in order to decrease driver negligence and ultimately decrease the number of fatalities on roadways for the remainder of the year.

The report states that provisional crash data released that 479 fatalities have occurred on Illinois roadways this year, as compared to 418 fatalities during the same time frame last year. An Illinois transportation secretary spoke out concerning this fact, saying, “This inventive campaign is about using the resources at hand to help inform the public, save lives, and prevent crashes from occurring as much as possible. Simply stated, our goal is to drive zero fatalities to reality.”

IDOT has planned to create driver awareness through the use of statewide messaging boards. The agency plans to rotate five key traffic safety messages daily, including “Don’t Drink & Drive,” “Don’t Text & Drive,” “Save a Life, Buckle Up,” “Stay off the Phone in Work Zones” and “Motorcyclists, Gear Up, Drive Safe.” In addition to these messages, the boards will post the daily traffic fatality count to make more of an impact on drivers and to remind them of the severity of motorist negligence.

Our Illinois auto accident lawyers learned that these statewide messaging boards are primarily reserved for emergencies or traffic incident management alerts related to accidents, detours, travel times, lane closures, weather alerts, construction, or maintenance operation information. These specific messages will take precedence over the traffic information campaign, and safety campaign messages will only be posted during times when such emergency alerts are not required. “We want all Illinois motorists to take a role in our fight against impaired and distracted driving, and strongly welcome the efforts of all concerned residents to help create awareness of the need to lower traffic-related fatalities,” stated the Illinois transportation secretary.
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According to an online news report by Suntimes.com, two vehicles were involved in a fatal accident at 95th Street and LaGrange Road near Hickory Hills, Illinois this past weekend. One of our Chicago car accident lawyers read that a 51-year-old Lockport woman was driving east on 95th street and had the green light when she entered the intersection. Her SUV was then hit by a pickup truck traveling south on LaGrange road. The 25-year-old Orland Park man ran a red light at the intersection and T-boned the woman’s car. A Cook Country sheriff’s police spokeswoman stated that preliminary investigations indicate the man may have been driving up to 70 miles per hour. The spokeswoman also said the man had made statements that he had been out drinking in Chicago since the evening before. Police later found traces of marijuana, cocaine, and opiates in his system as well.

The woman, a dedicated wife and mother of three, had been traveling to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she worked as a part time registered nurse when the accident took place. She was taken to Palos Community Hospital shortly after the accident and was later pronounced dead. The Orland Park driver, who was treated at the same hospital for minor injuries, is now in police custody and is being charged for driving under the influence, operating an uninsured vehicle, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and disobeying a traffic signal. There were no other passengers in either vehicle, and no other vehicles were involved in the accident.

As an Illinois car accident lawyer reading the above report noted, accidents caused by failing to obey traffic signals can be fatal. However, as of recently, legislation has been passed and signed into law authorizing the use of traffic safety cameras throughout the state of Illinois to decrease the number of these accidents. Specifically, local police departments are using red light cameras to hold drivers accountable for driving through red lights. As recently as February 2012, legislation was also passed to authorize the use of speed cameras in Chicago school and park zones. Governor Pat Quinn outlined his support for these cameras, noting “Reducing speed around schools and parks where children are present is a good policy for Illinois, and I’ve signed the legislation because I think it does have an impact on safety.”
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The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the Illinois House of Representatives has passed a new law aimed at reducing the risk of auto accidents. The law would institute a ban on the use of cell phones within a 500-foot proximity of auto accidents. As our Chicago car accident lawyers understand it, the ban would also apply to the use of other mobile devices such as laptops, but not to the use of navigation systems. There are also exceptions to the ban, including the legal use of cell phones when pulled over on the shoulder of the road and when in park or neutral due to obstructions in traffic.

The bill passed the House by a wide margin, but it was not without criticism. Opponents of the law believe that the law is an instance of severe overregulation. The proponents, conversely, view the regulation as a necessary means to reduce the risks associated with driving.

Many accident lawyers, as well as our very own Chicago car accident attorneys, have noted the increase in laws targeted at cell phone use while driving. Preceding Illinois automotive laws dealing with the use of cell phones have banned the use of such devices in school and construction zones. Additional Illinois laws have banned text messaging while driving. In a previous post in our Chicago car accident lawyer blog, our attorneys discussed the potential complications of determining the scope and proper enforcement of such laws.
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MySuburbanLife.com reports that the Lemont Police Department is joining the Illinois Department of Transportation, as well as, more than 500 law enforcement agencies in supporting the “Click It or Ticket” safety belt campaign throughout the month of May.

In a statement released by the Lemont Police Sergeant, our Chicago car accident attorneys learned that as of January 1, everyone – no matter what age or seating position – is required to wear a safety belt during vehicle operation. The Lemont Police Department will be participating in the campaign from May 11 through May 28.

Harrowing statistics provided by the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that 130,854 passenger vehicle occupants were killed from 2006 – 2010 and over half of these occupants were unrestrained.

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Earlier this week, a Chicago car accident lawyer at our firm read a news report detailing a campaign that has been launched by the Illinois Department of Transportation in an effort to reduce traffic related crashes, injuries, and fatalities in work zones. According to the news report, posted on AledoTimesRecord.com, the campaign is joined by other agencies including the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Illinois State Police, Local Laborers Union, as well as, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, just in time for the 2012 construction season to begin.

According to a statement released by the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Secretary, the Embrace the Orange Campaign is designed to encourage motorists of all types of vehicles and roadway workers to remain extremely cautious this year during travel. Additionally, it is encouraged that drivers take all necessary steps to remain aware and protect themselves in and around work zones. Our Chicago car accident attorney learned that last year alone, 21 fatal crashes transpired in work zones across the state of Illinois – including one of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s own employees.

It is reported that speed and driver inattentiveness have played major contributing factors to work zone related accidents. Given that notion that roadway construction creates conditions such as narrow or reduced lanes, edge drop offs, equipment next to moving lanes of traffic, as well as, lane closures, require drivers to significantly reduce their speed in order to safely travel through construction or work zones. In a statement released by the Executive Director of the Illinois Tollway, it was recommended that drivers slow down, stay alert, and always remember that texting while driving in Illinois is illegal.

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A Chicago car accident lawyer at our firm read an interesting article earlier today posted on DailyHerald.com. According to the report, members of the House of Representatives voted today to officially ban talking on a cellular phone while driving without a hands-free device. With a majority vote of 62-53 – including favorable votes from Illinois House members, the proposed ban will enter the Senate for further debate.

The regulation would ultimately hold that drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone while driving would be fined $75 for the first offense and $150 each for four or more offenses. However, drivers would be legally permitted to talk on a cellular telephone with a hands-free device or speakerphone.

Supporters for this regulation believe that the cell phone ban would decrease the amount of distracted drivers and further prevention dangerous traffic accidents. However, those who criticize the regulation believe the concept as “nanny-state legislation” that outlaws common behavior. Furthermore, critics wonder why lawmakers won’t just outright ban all activities that causes driver distraction and may ultimately lead to accidents.

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TheNewspaper.com released a report earlier today detailing a congressional bill that has been introduced by an Illinois Senator that aims to improve the safety of Illinois intersections. The bill, titled Senate Bill 3504, would ultimately require that municipalities or counties around the state add one second or more of yellow light timing to traffic signals at red light camera locations. Additionally, the bill would mandate cities to use nationally recognized standards in order to determine adequate timing for yellow lights and then add an additional second.

However, a Chicago car accident lawyer at our firm learned that this congressional bill has faced harsh criticism from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Despite increased evidence that supports the yellow light initiative – such as drastically reducing red light running, the Illinois Department of Transportation argues the opposition of this bill due to “safety concerns.” According to the report, it is alleged that the source of the IDOT’s opposition in inherent in the notion that if the safety bill is enacted, it would reduce red light violations and the revenues that come from subsequent fines.

On the other hand, research and statistics have provided great insight into just home beneficial extending yellow light signal times. A study determining the impact of lengthening the yellow light signal show great reductions in red light running from 30 percent to 92 percent. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2007 revealed a 36 percent decrease in red light violations when longer yellow lights were employed.