Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog

August 8, 2011

Teen's Car Can Help Keep Them Safe in Event of a Chicago Car Accident

A teenage driver and a private in the Illinois Army National Guard lost their lives in a single-car accident in Illinois. It happened when the vehicle left the road, spun out into a ditch and then struck a tree, according to the Woodridge Patch. The two later passed away at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee.
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The type of vehicle your teen drives can mean the difference between life and death in the event of an accident, but how do parents select a vehicle that is both safe and affordable? Our Chicago car accident attorneys are parents, too! We understand there are a lot of questions that need answering before purchasing a vehicle. You may be even more confused when selecting a vehicle for your newly licensed teen. You may be wondering things like: Should I buy them a used or a new car? What type of car should I get them? Which ones are the most reliable?

"Having a car is not a birthright," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, who raised four children. "Today's teens seem to think that they should have a car waiting for them in the driveway when they return home from the Motor Vehicle Department with their driver's license. If that's right for your family, fine. But don't be held hostage to peer pressure, and by that I mean from other families who are buying their teen a car."

We're going to help our children out no matter what, so here goes. First you will need to determine if you're going to get a new or a used vehicle? If you've got a budget, as most of us do, you're almost always better off getting a used car. A certified pre-owned car will be able to provide you with the advantages of a new-car like warranty. You might be able to get better financing rates too!

"A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

New cars will have all of the latest features, but late-model used cars will still come with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, airbags and reasonable power and performance. You're going to want to select a car for them that has a responsive chassis, making sure it handles well, has quick steering and has a good brake system.

So once you've figured out whether you're going to go new or used, you've got to start thinking about what kind of car you're going to go for. At this point it is important for you to take their safety into consideration. You can check out safety ratings and other crash-test information from a number of organizations including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. You're also urged to look at J.D. Power and Associates for reliability and other quality ratings.

"I see these young, inexperienced drivers in Mustangs, BMWs, and large SUVs. These automobiles are big, powerful and difficult to control for even experienced drivers. In the hands of a new driver, they can be deadly weapons," says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner and chief car chick with Women's Automotive Solutions.

Remember that you don't want to go too small. The smaller the car, the less likely it will be to protect your teen in the event of a front-end accident.

"Your teen is safest in a mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine, airbags and a good crash test rating," says Shattuck.

No matter what way you go about it, selecting a car for your teen is going to take a lot of time and a lot of research. This may be one of the most important decisions you'll have to make in your teen's life.

"Don't feel you have to buy the first car you see," says Jack Nerad, executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book.

Continue reading "Teen's Car Can Help Keep Them Safe in Event of a Chicago Car Accident" »

August 6, 2011

New Report Focuses on Causes of and Solutions to Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere

The first comprehensive overview summarizing and analyzing distracted driving research for state officials was released last month by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The report looked into research from more than 350 scientific papers published between 2000 and 2011. The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, looks into the habits of distracted drivers and their influence on car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere in the United States. It also looks into creating countermeasures to reduce the risk involved with distracted driving.
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“Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report’s development. “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

Our Chicago car accident attorneys would like to share with you some of the hard facts associated with distracted driving:

-Distractions limit driving performance.

-Texting likely increases accident risk more than cell phone use.

-Drivers are distracted as much as half the time they spend behind the wheel.

-Drivers are able to adapt to some extent. They are able to pay more attention to driving and reduce their distracting activities when presented with a risky driving situation.

-Distractions are involved in traffic accidents an estimated 15 to 25 percent of the time.

-Cell phone use increases traffic accident risks.

This report asks that states implement the following countermeasures:

-Continue to leverage effective, low-cost roadway countermeasures like edgeline and centerline rumble strips. These features alert motorists when they are drifting out of their driving lane.

-Keep track of distracted driving influences in accident reports so that the information can be used to evaluate distracted driving laws and programs.

-Implement distracted driving communication programs.

-Monitor the impact of existing hand-held cell phone bans before looking into enacting new laws. A number of states that have yet to pass handheld bans should wait until more definitive research and data is available on the effectiveness of these laws.

-Look into other distracted driving laws and programs. Evaluation of these programs will provide the information that states can use to decide which countermeasures are effective and which are not.

-Create and enforce a texting ban for all drivers. Include a complete cell phone ban for novice drivers.

-Enforce all existing cell phone and texting laws.

-Assists employers in developing and enforcing distracted driving policies and programs.

“While distracted driving is an emotional issue that raises the ire of many on the road, states must take a research-based approach to addressing the problem. Until more research is conducted, states need to proceed thoughtfully, methodically and objectively,” says GHSA Harsha.

High-visibility enforcement for texting and hand-held cell phones is important in enforcing current laws. Enforcement efforts are an effective way to help change motorist behavior.

“Our report includes the preliminary results of these cell phone crackdowns, which have prompted dramatic declines in hand-held cell phone use and texting behind the wheel. The final results are expected shortly and should be considered as states move forward with education and enforcement initiatives,” says Harsha.

Continue reading "New Report Focuses on Causes of and Solutions to Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere " »

August 4, 2011

Proposed Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Legislation Aims to Reduce Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere

"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 5 to 34. And the annual highway death toll costs our nation over $230 billion a year," said Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Too many people are needlessly dying because states have been slow to enact laws to protect teen drivers, keep drunk drivers off our roads and ban the dangerous and deadly practice of texting while driving."
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Democratic leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently introduced legislation to improve the safety of motor vehicles, to advance traffic safety laws in states and to enhance consumer information, according to Automotive Industry Today. These measures are aimed at reducing the number of fatal car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere. The proposed law is sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV). It would fund safety programs and activities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for auto and traffic safety.

Our Illinois car accident attorneys note the proposed law (the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011 (MVHSIA), or Mariah's Law) is named after an Arkansas teen killed in a traffic accident involving a texting driver. It aims to address teen driver licensing, improve motor vehicle safety standards, halt distracted and impaired driving, tighten up child passenger safety regulations and enact safety defect and consumer information reforms.

"As a parent and a lawmaker," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), "I want to take every reasonable safety precaution to ensure that our teen drivers are safe and well-prepared for the serious responsibility that comes with getting a license. This legislation will give young drivers better education and more experience before they get out on the roads, keeping us all safer and saving lives."

This proposals include the Safe Teen And Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act. This is the legislation, introduced by Senator Gillibrand and co-sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), that includes a $22 million grant program that will be used to encourage states to adopt a number of teen driving laws. The laws will phase in driving privileges as a teen gains more experience at the wheel. For a state to qualify for these grants, it would have to create and enforce laws that would restrict the number of teen passengers that a young driver drive ride with, initiate a ban on cell phone use and limit nighttime driving.

"As the mother of a teenager, I know firsthand how important it is to keep our roads safe," said Senator Klobuchar. "These measures will provide states with effective guidelines to help ensure drivers' safety and prevent risky behavior – especially among teen drivers. I will continue to fight to strengthen protection for drivers and make our roads safer for everyone."

This bill would direct the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to issue a standard that would ensure the reliability and performance of electronic systems that operate and control vital vehicle safety systems. It would also require the Administration to create some way for consumers to have better access to government information about recalls, defects and other safety-related data. This proposal comes after many lost faith in the current recall system -- many consumers were never notified about malfunctions regarding their vehicle.

"This bill is about saving lives," said Senator Mark Pryor, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. "We've strengthened programs designed to stop dangerous driving behavior, and we've stepped up vehicle safety so that families are protected by strong safety standards and devices when an accident does occur."

Continue reading "Proposed Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Legislation Aims to Reduce Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere" »

August 2, 2011

Chicago injury attorneys settle pair of cases involving negligent drivers

The Illinois car crash attorneys at Abels & Annes have recently settled two cases on behalf of motorists involved in collisions. Both clients were injured and required multiple visits to healthcare professionals before their symptoms were under control.

In one case, on March 23, 2010, our client was the victim of an Illinois hit and run accident. She was traveling southbound on Oakhurst Drive in Aurora, Illinois when she came to a stop in the left turn lane. When the light changed to green, she proceeded to turn left onto New York Street when a 1999 Chevy Blazer traveling westbound disregarded their red light and T-boned the woman’s 1999 Honda Accord. The at fault driver immediately fled the scene.

The Aurora Police Department responded to the scene and began to interview witnesses who confirmed that the victim was obeying all traffic laws when the hit and run driver ran the red light and crashed into her. Police soon found the vehicle involved in the crash, but the driver had left and the registered owner could not be located. The police report described that victim as dazed and confused when they arrived, and she was transported to Rush Copley Hospital for an examination.

At the hospital, the plaintiff complained of left-sided rib pain and right knee pain. After diagnostic tests and x-rays were administered, she was diagnosed with a left rib contusion and a right knee sprain. She was prescribed pain medication and instructed to follow up with her primary care physician.

The victim sought follow up medical treatment on March 25, 2010 due to ongoing and increasing pain, especially in her left ribs. She was diagnosed with a severe left rib contusion and ordered to refrain from heavy lifting and to stay off work for several weeks. She was also instructed to seek further medical attention if the pain persisted.

After the rib pain did not subside, the woman sought additional medical treatment on April 9, 2010. An x-ray of her left ribs found non-displaced fractures of her left fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs. She was ordered to continue to refrain from heavy lifting and to stay off work until after April 26, 2010. The pain was still persistent when she visited a doctor again on May 14, 2010, and she complained that the injury was aggravated with movement, which made sleeping very difficult. Finally, on June 11, 2010, the victim reported that her condition was improving.

Her inability to work due to the injury resulted in a lose of income. In addition, the lingering pain made it difficult for her to conduct simple tasks in her daily life.

Our law firm pursued an uninsured motorist claim against our client's own insurance carrier due to the fact that the at fault driver fled the scene of the crash. We were able to negotiate a settlement of $20,000 to compensate the plaintiff for her expenses and lost wages, as well as her pain and suffering.

In the second case we settled, a woman was driving northbound on Winfield Road in Winfield, Illinois when she stopped for a red light at the intersection with Highlake Road. Another motorist traveling in the same direction failed to stop for the red light and crashed into a car idling at the intersection, which in turn rear-ended the victim’s car. The man admitted to Winfield Police officers that he did not notice that the vehicles in front of him had stopped because he was lost at the time and not paying attention.

Following the collision, the victim had an immediate onset of pain and received initial medical treatment at the scene by Wheaton Fire Department EMTs. She later sought follow up medical treatment due to ongoing and increasing pain. She complained of left shoulder pain, chest pain, headaches, and neck pain due to whiplash. The doctor prescribed her pain medication and recommended physical therapy, which she completed 15 sessions of.

The case settled for $8,500 pre-litigation.

Continue reading "Chicago injury attorneys settle pair of cases involving negligent drivers" »

July 29, 2011

July & August -- Deadliest Months for Teen Car Accident in Chicago and Elsewhere

According to a number of studies, summertime is the deadliest days for teens on our roadways. More teens die because of car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere during July and August alone.

We recently covered this topic on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog. We reported that car accidents are the number one cause of deaths for those ages 15- to 20-years-old in the United States. Drivers are most likely to die during their first year and first 1,000 miles of driving.
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The Indiana Traffic Safety Report is one of the most recently released studies involving teen accidents during the summer months. So let's see what our friends and neighbors have to say. This report shows detailed information on accidents, fatalities and the various factors that increase the likelihood of a crash, such as drunk driving and speeding, according to the Pharos-Tribune.

The report shows that the number of fatal accidents, which sat at 631 in 2009, showed a decrease of 12.6 percent from 2008. Unfortunately, that number jumped back up by 11 percent in 2010. The numbers in Illinois are expected to mirror these trends.

In an attempt to help keep teens safe on our roadways during the next few months, the Illinois Department of Transportation's Operation Teen Safe Driving will be continuing its efforts in making a difference in the lives of Illinois teen drivers across the state. This program encourages teens to wear a seat belt, abide by posted speed limits, avoid driving distractions and avoid drinking and driving. For the last 5 years, the program has pushed efforts to the max and has successfully witnessed a near 50 percent decline in teen deaths in Illinois from 2007 to 2010.

Operation Teen Safe Driving works hand in hand with the Ford Motor Company Fund, The Allstate Foundation, Governors Highway Association, Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois State Police, Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety.

According to the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, nearly 5,500 drivers age 15- to 20-years-old were involved in deadly car accidents in the United States in 2009. In these accidents, nearly 2,500 young drivers were killed. Another 196,000 drivers from these age group sustained injuries from these accidents. This means that more than 10 percent of all drivers that were involved in fatal accidents in 2009 were between 15- and 20-years-old. During that same year 1,077 teens died because of drunk driving accidents.

In 2009, Illinois witnessed nearly 150 traffic accident fatalities of those in this young age group.

“Driver behavior plays a critical role in safety, particularly for new, inexperienced drivers,” said Mike Robinson, vice president, GM Environment, Energy and Safety Policy.

For this reason, parents are urged to get involved in their teen's diving habits over these summer months. Know where they're going and when they'll be home. Make sure that they follow all roadway rules, laws and regulations. Try enacting a parent-teen contract to get your young driver to agree on and abide by some important and safe ground rules.

Continue reading "July & August -- Deadliest Months for Teen Car Accident in Chicago and Elsewhere" »

July 27, 2011

New Study Aims to Stop Car Accidents in Chicago Before They Happen

A single-vehicle car accident in Chicago left one woman dead and two others critically injured. The accident happened in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side. The vehicle left the roadways and slammed into a tree near the intersection of Midway Plaisance and South Cornell Avenue, according to My Fox Chicago.
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One woman was thrown 25 feet from the vehicle. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition. Two other vehicle occupants had to be extricated from the car. One was later pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The other passenger was taken in critical condition to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. The police Major Accident Investigation Unit is investigating.

In an effort to reduce the number of serious and fatal car accidents nationwide, a new two-year study will be conducted to observe driver's actions and reactions to varying traffic conditions. Researchers then plan to use this information to aid the development of safety improvements in road design, cars and driver training programs. Our Chicago car accident attorneys recognize the significance of this type of study. Crash avoidance research may usher in a new wave of technology that will one day have the ability to save thousands of lives on our roadways.

“Collision prevention is the central goal of the study” said Ken Campbell, chief program officer overseeing safety for the Strategic Highway Research Program, which is part of the non-profit Transportation Research Board. “And the driver is the key to prevent collision.”

The two-year study will install special equipment into the vehicles of 3,100 participants. This equipment consists of four cameras and a data box. The four cameras will record forward and rear views along with the driver’s face and hands. This data will be held in the storage box, which will be kept in the vehicle's glove box. Researchers will be collecting the recorded data every four to six months, according to Forbes.

“You can’t just look at collisions or near collisions to know what risk factors are. It’s that comparison with what the driver is doing when there is not a safety-related event that tells you what the risk factors are,” says Campbell.

In previous studies, researchers generally focused on countermeasures that protect drivers and passengers after collisions, like seat belts, airbags and crash-worthy vehicles. This is one of the few studies that takes it a step farther and focuses on avoiding the crashes altogether. Car accidents that happen at intersections and accidents where the driver runs off the road will be initial focus areas of this study

The Transportation Research Board is looking for volunteers to participate in Buffalo, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Durham, central Pennsylvania and Bloomington. Every driver that participates in the study will be rewarded with $500 for each year.

“We are particularly interested in people under 25 and over 65” Dr. Campbell said. Both groups represent a small percentage of all drivers and have high collision rates.

To participate, you'll be required to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and an approved vehicle. Participating vehicles are subject to a brief inspection. More than half of all vehicle makes are eligible.

“This study is long overdue and has the potential for providing the most comprehensive look at why highway crashes occur,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and educational organization that provided technical advice for the study. “It is unprecedented in its scope and approach. It will be a wonderful supplement to other ongoing and planned traffic safety research efforts. My only disappointment is that the transportation research community didn’t initiate the study several years ago.”

Continue reading "New Study Aims to Stop Car Accidents in Chicago Before They Happen" »

July 18, 2011

Chicago truck accident attorney reaches settlements in 2 cases

The Illinois Injury Lawyers at Abels & Annes have reached a truck accident settlement on behalf of a client who was rear-ended on the highway due to the inattentiveness of a truck driver. The woman sustained several injuries to her neck and back that required medical care.

On May 25, 2010, the woman was driving northbound on I-55 through Bolingbrook, Illinois when a commercial Freightliner semi slammed into her 2008 Honda Accord as she reduced her speed to match traffic conditions. The Illinois State Police responded to the accident and conducted an investigation which placed the truck driver at fault. The report stated the driver had failed to exercise due care by reducing his excessive speed because he was admittedly not paying attention.

Unfortunately, the victim had an immediate onset of neck pain, and was transported by ambulance from the scene of the crash to the Emergency Department at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital for examination. Upon her arrival, doctors performed a host of diagnostic tests and x-rays to determine the source of her substantial pain, and she was diagnosed with a cervical strain and cervicalgia. The doctors prescribed pain medication and instructed her to seek treatment if her pain continued. The pain did not subside, however, and she was forced to seek further medical attention for her low back pain, muscle spasms, and a radiating pain in her left shoulder caused by the pain in her neck.

She was then treated at a chiropractic office in the Chicago area where she was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar sprian/strain, myalgia, and muscle spasms. Her treatment plan consisted of conservative chiropractic spinal correction and manipulation therapy, and physical therapy. She required 16 separate session of chiropractic treatment before she was finally discharged.

A lawyer at our office negotiated a $12,000 settlement without having to file a lawsuit, saving our client the cost of litigation.

Accidents between cars and commercial trucks happen fairly frequently on highways, and the attorneys at Abels & Annes settled another case recently involving an inattentive truck driver colliding with a passenger vehicle.

On October 20, 2010, a man and his passenger were traveling in the right lane going east on I-80 when a commercial tractor-trailer merged into their lane and collided with their 1994 Pontiac Bonneville. The truck’s front bumper struck the driver’s side door of victim’s automobile, causing the car to fishtail out of control before coming to a rest on the opposite side of the highway.

The Illinois State Police Department’s investigation determined that the truck driver was at fault for the incident. They cited him for an improper lane change, as he was traveling at an excessive speed for the conditions and failed to exercise due care in ascertaining whether a lane change could be made safely. The driver admitted that he did not see the victim until after contact had been made.

Shortly after the collision, our client began to experience stiffness and radiating pain in his left leg due to back pains sustained in the crash. The increasing pain forced him to seek medical treatment at St. James Hospital where various tests were administered. The x-rays showed a significant decrease in vertebral body between C3 and C4 and he was diagnosed with a sciatica on his left side, a neck sprain/strain, and a muscle strain/sprain.

After the prescribed pain medication did not improve his condition, the victim sought treatment from a neurologist for his neck and back pain, as well as pain and a limited range of motion in his left shoulder. The doctor noticed a bruising on his left shoulder and had the impression that he had suffered a sacroiliac and lumbosacral strain.

On December 21, 2010, the victim returned to the doctor and indicated he was still having pain and limitations in his lumbar spine region. The doctor recommended that he continue physical therapy and return in a month. He was discharged by the doctor on February 1, 2011 after completing 12 sessions of physical therapy at a chiropractic office.

The Illinois Injury Lawyers at Abels & Annes negotiated a $13,500 settlement pre-litigation, once again saving our client court costs.

Continue reading "Chicago truck accident attorney reaches settlements in 2 cases" »

July 15, 2011

82-Year-Old Driver Injures Two Pedestrians - Are Your Parent's at Risk for a Car Accident in Chicago?

Six traffic violations were handed to an 82-year-old woman accused of causing a serious car vs. pedestrian accident in Chicago this past weekend. The woman was allegedly driving the wrong way on the Magnificent Mile and struck two pedestrians, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The woman was cited for driving over the median, negligent driving, disobeying a red light and for striking the pedestrians in a crosswalk, according to Chicago Police Officer John Mirabelli.
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It's a part of life. One day we're all going experience a loss in eyesight, hearing and hand-eye coordination. Many of us will fight these aging symptoms. It is important to keep an eye on our parents, grandparents and other elderly loved ones to make sure that our friends and family members are not facing increased risks of being involved in a serious car accident. Our Illinois car accident attorneys encourage all residents to speak with their parents about aging and driving. It may be tough and you may not want to do it, but it's important.

Police have yet to determine why the woman was driving the wrong direction when the accident happened. The pedestrians were injured just after 5:00 p.m. Friday evening. Both were taken to the hospital, according to Huffpost Chicago.

Currently, elderly drivers account for about 20 percent of all motorists on U.S. roadways, according to the Government Accountability Office. That number isn't expected to shrink any time soon. Those who make up the first wave of the baby-boom generation celebrated their 65th birthdays this year.

"The number of older drivers on the road is definitely a concern, and their number can't help but increase in the years ahead, due to the aging of the population," said Lisa D'Ambrosio, a research scientist at the MIT AgeLab.

If you're worried about your parents driving abilities, you're not alone. The Hartford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab, reports that nearly 1 out of every 10 adults are concerned about an older family member's driving.

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study determined the following about drivers and intersection accidents:

-Nearly 60 percent of drivers 80-years-old and older neglect to yield at intersections.

-Nearly 40 precent of those age 70- to 79-years-old fail to yield at intersections.

-Only 26 percent of drivers that are age 35- to 54-year-old don't yield at stop signs.

"We know that having that first conversation with an older parent is going to be a difficult one, because driving is so intrinsic to our sense of independence and autonomy," said D'Ambrosio. "So many of us are dependent on driving, especially in regions where public transportation does not exist, or is inconvenient, or runs irregularly. There is also a concern about what the transportation alternatives might be if an older person has to stop driving."

Should you ask your parent turn in their keys for good. MSN recommends you ask yourself these question. Yes answers means you should talk with you parent:

-Have they suffered a stroke, heart attack or diminished eyesight?

-Have they experienced any difficulty negotiating sharp turns and intersections?

-Do they hesitate over right-of-way decisions?

-Are they oftentimes surprised by the sudden presence of other vehicles or pedestrians?

-Are they getting lost on familiar routes?

We understand that talking with your loved ones about when they need to stop driving may be hard on you, but it is important that you do this for their safety. If you avoid the conversation, you're only putting them at an increased risk for experiencing a car accident that could potentially end their life prematurely.

Continue reading "82-Year-Old Driver Injures Two Pedestrians - Are Your Parent's at Risk for a Car Accident in Chicago?" »

July 14, 2011

Pair of fatal auto accidents in the Chicago area highlights dangers of drunk driving

Two women have been killed in separate Chicago area car crashes this month, with alleged DUI drivers being responsible for both accidents.

On July 3, a 39-year old Carol Stream man was driving in the early hours of the morning with a 30-year old woman when he failed to stop at a train crossing in Itasca, Illinois, drove through the lowered gate, and struck the engine of a passing train. According to the Chicago Tribune, the man had a blood-alcohol content of .183, more than twice the legal limit of .08. His passenger died of her injuries soon after the crash.

The man has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, and is being held on $500,000 bail.

A week later, a 43-year old woman returning home from her job as a 911 dispatcher when a 16-year old driver, who was drunk and high on drugs, plowed into her car. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the young driver, who was an honors student and two-sport athlete at his high school, was being pursued by police at the time of the accident.

The youth had just left a party near Old Town, where he got “drunk and high,” when he saw a man leave his SUV idling on North Michigan Avenue while he went to pay for parking. The youth stole the car and fled police after they attempted to pull him over after he ran a red light. During the pursuit, the youth ran a stop sign at the intersection of Armitage and Hoyne Avenues in Bucktown and hit the 911 dispatcher, causing her to careen into a fire hydrant. The youth escaped on foot, but was soon apprehended. Police say the teen had a blood-alcohol content of .186 and was also high on marijuana and ecstasy at the time of the crash.

The youth has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder, felony burglary, misdemeanor DUI, and two traffic citations. His bond is set at $1 million.

Drunk driving is incredibly dangerous for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. Each year, thousands of innocent people are killed in alcohol-related crashes. A brief look government statistics from 2009 illustrate this grim reality:

• Out of the 33,808 driving fatalities nationwide, 10,839 of them were alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (32%) – That is roughly 1 every 48 minutes

• 1,077 teens died drunk driving crashes

• 70% of drivers involved in fatal drunk driving crashes had blood-alcohol levels above .15, and the median level was .17

• 44% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least 1 prior DWI conviction

• 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

• Out of the 911 driving fatalities in Illinois, 319 of them were alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (35%)

Sources:
- 2009 NHTSA Traffic Report
- NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
- 2009 Century Counsel Report- Drunk Driving Fatalities in America
- CDC Stat sheet

Continue reading "Pair of fatal auto accidents in the Chicago area highlights dangers of drunk driving" »

July 12, 2011

16-year-old boy faces murder charges after causing deadly Chicago car crash

A fatal Illinois auto accident that occurred early Sunday morning in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood has resulted in a 16-year-old minor being charged with first-degree murder, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. The teenager crashed a stolen Range Rover while being chased by police, striking and killing a Chicago 911 dispatcher who was driving home from work.

The minor is being charged as an adult with first-degree murder, burglary, DUI, failing to stop at a red light, and disobeying a stop sign. The teen's name is not being released.

The tragic incident started when officers conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of W. Blackhawk St. and Elston Avenue around 6:15 AM for a red light violation occurred at Elston and Webster. When police got out of their vehicle, the driver reversed towards the officers and hit a police supervisor's vehicle.

Chicago police then pursued the Range Rover, which was a stolen vehicle that is owned by a resident of Bellwood, Illinois. The driver sped north on Elston, then turned onto W. Cortland St., turned north on N. Ashland Ave., and next went west on Armitage to Damen Avenue.

The driver made a few more turns and then collided the victim when he disregarded the stop sign at North Hoyne Avenue and Armitage. The police chase lasted between 1.5 to 2 miles.

The victim, a 42-year-old woman, was later identified as a 911 dispatcher who was heading home from her place of employment at the time of the crash. She was rushed to Illinois Masonic Medical Center where she was pronounced dead less than an hour after the accident. An autopsy is scheduled to take place on Monday.

Accident witnesses are stating that the 911 dispatcher's car hit a fire hydrant after the impact with the Range Rover. The SUV hit a parked car after the first impact. The teenage driver tried to flee the scene of the accident through an alley, but was caught by police and arrested.

The minor was taken to an area hospital after the collision, and will remain in police custody. Witnesses report the teenager sustained a head injury in the accident.

There were no passengers in either vehicle, and no one else was injured.

The investigation is being handled by Grand Central Area detectives and the Major Accident Investigation Unit of the Chicago Police Department. The defendant is to appear in criminal court on Monday at Branch 66, 26th and California.

Click here to read the story as reported by NBC news and Fox news.

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