Articles Posted in Tips for Readers

Most kids are unsafe when riding in cars, at least according to a study published last month by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Apparently, there are multiple factors that contribute to this phenomenon. For one, many children ride in the front seat before they are old enough to do so. However, there is a common misconception about age as the determinant in prohibiting children from riding in the front seat. As our Chicago car accident attorneys understand it, the real issue has to do with height and weight, whereas young children are often not tall or heavy enough to ride in the front. Further, many children are not properly restrained in car or booster seats.

Our Illinois car accident lawyers found the reasoning in the study to be well supported. The study, which observed 22,000 children, found that “just 3 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 3 who were restrained at all were sitting in a proper, rear facing car seat, and only 10 percent of 8- to 10-year old children were properly restrained in a booster seat or a car seat.”

A Fox News article on the study also explains the complicated role of regulations in this issue. According to the study’s leading doctor at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, the ongoing changes to regulations make it difficult for people to adhere to car safety regulations. Today’s parents did not grow up with the most current regulations, so they are often unfamiliar with them. Even concerned parents who attempt to stay current on the latest regulations often get confused due to the frequent changes.

Interestingly enough, compliance with the more lax regulations was often lower than the newer, stricter regulations. Regardless, compliance is still lacking. For example, only 2 percent of kids over the age of 7 were in a booster seat and a whopping quarter of kid’s ages 8 to 10 sit in the front seat of the car.
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Motorcycle driving awareness has recently become an issue in many cities throughout the state of Illinois, as the number of accidents involving motorcycles has significantly increased this summer. Our Chicago car accident attorneys were happy to learn that a number of driving classes and safety tips have been offered and encouraged for all motorcycle drivers to use in even more Illinois areas.

Journalstandard.com states that a 7th Ward Alderman in the City of Freeport has begun teaching old and new drivers motorcycle awareness in places such as Freeport, Orangeville, Lena, Forreston, and Cedarville. His concern has been stated that experienced drivers do not practice the same caution that younger drivers have been taught. This belief is evident in the numbers of motorcycle accidents that have occurred in Illinois within the last few years. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) there were 130 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in Illinois in 2010 resulting in 132 deaths to drivers and passengers involved. This is a 27% increase since 1999. There were also 343,924 motorcycles registered in Illinois in 2010, a 73% increase since 1999.

Our Illinois accident law firm learned that almost half of all motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. The most common accident that occurs between a motorcycle and another vehicle is when a vehicle makes a left hand turn in front of a motorcycle. “The first thing a car driver says after an accident is ‘I didn’t see them,'” said the Alderman referring to motorcyclists. “People just don’t train themselves to see motorcycles. We want to get people to look for bikes. Don’t look twice, look three times.” He stated that another problem includes being unable to see motorcyclists at night, often due to motorcycles’ small headlights and their tendency to blend in with traffic.
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Mysuburbanlife.com has reported that a driver who was in a car accident in early May of this year has now been arrested and charged with aggravated DUI. Our Chicago car accident lawyers learned that the 20 year-old driver of Geneva, Illinois was driving a 22-year-old passenger who told police the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel before the accident. The passenger allegedly attempted waking up the driver before their car crashed into a line of trees near the Fox River at North Bennet and Dodson streets.

The report states that the car was totaled after the accident and emergency crews quickly responded to the scene. Route 25 was closed for about two hours as a result, and the State Street bridge over the Fox River was temporarily closed so that a helicopter could airlift the passenger in the vehicle to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. Police say the passenger was in critical condition, in contrast to the driver of the car who was not only in stable condition, but had no recollection of the accident. After further investigation, Geneva police issued an arrest for the driver, who turned herself in and was charged with aggravated DUI.

Our Illinois car accident attorneys were surprised to read a release by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which states that every year, more than 10% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel, while more than 20% say they have momentarily dozed off. As everyone would agree, sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination for not only the driver, but all other motorists on the roadway. Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, which slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment, and ultimately increases the risk of an accident occurring. Drowsy driving and fatigue behind the wheel can essentially be just as fatal as drunk driving. The NHTSA estimates that about 100,000 accidents involve drowsiness and/or fatigue as a principal causal factor each year, leading to an estimated 1,500 fatalities and 71,000 injures. Currently, New Jersey is the only state that considers driving drowsy as reckless driving, and others states are considering legislation that would allow police to charge drowsy drivers with criminal negligence if they injure or kill someone while driving.
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Summer may be nearing its end, but that has not halted the increasing number of boating accidents in Illinois. As our Chicago boating accident attorneys reported late last month, boating accidents have been on the rise. This is particularly true in Illinois, where alcohol related boating accidents are the second highest in the nation, and budget cuts have curtailed boating law enforcement efforts. In another recent post, we reported on the tragic death of a 10-year-old Illinois boy who died in a boating accident. Now, more statistics by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) have been published. These statistics, originally from the U.S. Coast Guard, provide an increased depth of knowledge as to the scope of boating accidents and fatalities.

In 2011, there were approximately 4,600 recreational boating accidents in the United States, involving 758 deaths and 3,081 injuries. These accidents caused nearly $52 million of damage to property. Interestingly, Illinois is ranked in seventh place for states with the most boating accident fatalities, but does not make the top ten in the sheer amount of accidents. Clearly, there are factors at play that have caused Illinois to have a disproportionately high fatality rate in relation to the accident rate.

The fact that Illinois ranks second in alcohol related boating accidents is one such factor. As our Illinois boating accident lawyers discussed, not only is law enforcement hampered by a shrinking budget, but alcohol consumption when boating can present unique challenges. The legal driving BAC is the same as the legal boating BAC, .08, but the exposure to sun and increased likelihood of dehydration associated with boating can strengthen the effects of alcohol. Combined with the fact that drinking is much more widespread in boating than it safely should be, the prevalence of accidents is put in context.
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A Mulberry Grove woman recently was killed along with her two daughters in a rear-end accident taking place in Bond Country, Illinois. The woman, 41, and her two daughters, 8 and 6, were driving on I-70 when they encountered deer crossing the road. According to an online Fox News article, when the car came to a complete halt, in order to let the deer cross, they were rear-ended by a truck. The truck driver luckily only sustained minor injuries.

This incident harkens back to a previous blog post by our Chicago car accident attorneys in which we discusses the multiple aspects of encountering deer in the road. Our post was inspired by a news report showing that more than half of the car accidents in Coles County, Illinois, involved a deer. In the post, we provided tips on how to avoid deer accident fatalities. We also discussed the fact that the number one source of fatalities in such accidents is the attempt to avoid hitting deer in the road, as concluded by a Cambridge University Press study titled, “Maintaining and restoring connectivity in landscapes fragmented by roads.”

This is unfortunately what happened in the recent case involving the mother and her two daughters. Our Chicago car accident lawyers decided to do some more research on the topic of wildlife related crashes. A National Cooperative Highway Research Program project found that 750,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions occur yearly. There are over 200 human fatalities and more than a billion dollars in damage caused by these yearly accidents.
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Chicagotribune.com recently made a report detailing a car accident near southwest suburban Plainfield that left one person dead and five people, including an infant and a toddler, seriously injured. Our Illinois car accident attorneys read that at about 2:30pm last Saturday, a car carrying a husband, wife, infant, and toddler was westbound on Route 126 waiting to turn left onto County Line Road. As the car was about to turn, an SUV, also traveling westbound, rear-ended the car and rolled over several times. After being hit by the SUV, the car spun and side swiped a motorcycle traveling eastbound on Route 126.

A Fire Department Deputy Chief states the family traveling in the car was extricated from the vehicle by firefighters and was transported to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. The man, toddler and infant were transported by ambulance in serious condition, while the woman was listed in critical condition. The deputy stated that both children were properly restrained in car seats, ultimately saving their lives. The driver of the SUV was thrown from his vehicle upon impact and was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital in serious condition. The motorcyclist was transported to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora in critical condition. According to Illinois State Police, he unfortunately went into traumatic arrest in the ambulance and died later that evening. He was not believed to have been wearing a helmet.

In addition to the fire department deputies and Illinois state policemen at the scene, Plainfield police and Kendall County police arrived as well. Plainfield Emergency Management blocked the roads at the intersection and surrounding the area after the accident, and they were reopened later that evening.

Although the report does not confirm who was to blame in this particular accident, our Chicago car accident attorneys understand that these types of accidents are very common throughout the state of Illinois and can ultimately become fatal if the proper precautions are not used while driving on roadways. An accident involving young children can potentially kill them upon impact if the children are not properly restrained in car seats. The children in the above report were both in their car seats, ultimately saving their lives. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death for children ages four through fifteen, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every year, about 2,000 children under the age of fifteen die and nearly 300,000 are injured in passenger vehicle crashes; more than half of these children were not properly restrained.
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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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Our Illinois car accident lawyers recently read a report about a severe motorcycle accident that occurred last week in Breese, Illinois. Stltoday.com states that at 9:20am, two motorcyclists were traveling west on U.S. Route 50 near Linden Grove when they decided to change lanes-going west in the eastbound lane-to pass a vehicle in front of them. As the motorcyclists changed lanes, an SUV was coming toward them in the eastbound lane. Police say the motorcyclists didn’t have enough time to get around the car they were passing before the SUV came towards them. The driver of the SUV swerved onto the shoulder of the road to avoid hitting the motorcyclists. One of the motorcycle drivers, a 40-year-old woman of East Saint Louis, Illinois, decreased her speed after seeing the vehicle swerve off of the road, while the other driver, a 50-year-old man of O’Fallon, Illinois, did not. He followed too closely behind the woman’s motorcycle and as a result, collided with it. Both driver’s were then thrown from their motorcycles and are currently in serious condition.

The report states that the driver of the SUV was wearing a seatbelt and was uninjured. Neither motorcyclist, however, was wearing a helmet, in addition to neither being properly licensed to operate a motorcycle. The Illinois State Police have cited both drivers for not having proper driver’s license classification, for improper overtaking of a vehicle, and for failing to have insurance.

Our Chicago auto accident attorneys understand that more people in Illinois have begun to rely on motorcycles as a means of transportation, especially during the summertime when gas prices are high and the weather is nice. As a result, fatal accidents involving motorcycles are greatly increasing. A primary reason for the severity of these accidents has to do with helmet laws, or lack thereof, in the state of Illinois. Officially enacted in 1970, Illinois does not have any helmet laws in place for motorcycle drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010, 83% of the people who died from motorcycle crashes in Illinois were not wearing a helmet. This is among the highest percent nationally. In the United States, Illinois ranks 47th for lives saved and economic costs saved due to helmet use. Shockingly, compared to the 36 lives saved in states with a Universal Helmet Law in place in 2010, only 4 were saved in Illinois. Additionally, states with a Universal Helmet Law saved about $73 million dollars, while Illinois only saved $9 million.
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While many drivers are themselves responsible for causing serious car accidents through driver negligence, such as driving while distracted or failing to follow traffic laws, other accidents may be caused by factors outside of the driver’s control. This was the case on Thursday morning when a woman’s vehicle struck one of several cows along a road in DeKalb County. A Chicago car accident attorney from our firm read the Cbslocal.com report, which stated that the sixty-year-old woman from Joliet was heading east on U.S. 30 when cow jolted in front of her car. DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department deputies say the impact of the collision caused the woman’s vehicle to fall into a ditch, roll over, and then catch fire. Thankfully, the woman was able to escape from the vehicle; her condition is currently unknown.

Although no legal recourse is generally available to those who suffer from an animal car accident, our Illinois car accident attorneys understand how common and potentially severe animal-related accidents on the road can be. Striking a cow on the side of the road as the above report discusses is less common, but other animals such as deer, fox, and coyotes are seen more often and can cause deadly accidents. Even smaller animals like rabbits, raccoons, dogs, cats, and squirrels can impact driving skills and lead to serious injury to you or others on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), there are about 1.5 million car accidents with animals each year. This results in one billion dollars in vehicle damage, about 150 human fatalities, and over 10,000 personal injuries. Out of the ten worst states for animal collisions, Illinois ranks third. Cars are involved in about 61% of the crashes, followed by pick up trucks at 26%, vans at 7%, and tractor trailers at 2%. Our Chicago car accident law firm would like to offer you defensive driving tips to help prevent hitting an animal on the road this summer.
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