Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog

December 14, 2009

Decades after Chicago debuted car phones to the world, area continues to strengthen ban to reduce Chicago car accidents

1131636_no_cells.jpg
Complete with a vintage photo of the 1983 debut of a car phone in a Chrysler parked before the media at Solider Field, The New York Times has published an exhaustive look at the dangers of driver distraction caused by cell phones.

In that call, hundreds of members of the media gathered at Soldier Field to watch an executive from Ameritech, the regional phone company that sponsored the event, use a car phone in a Chrysler convertible to phone a great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, who was living in Germany.

Since then, the City of Chicago and the state of Illinois have become leaders in banning text messaging and cell phone use by drivers. Drivers have been forbidden from using hand-held cell phones in the City of Chicago since 2005 and a new law that takes effect Jan. 1 will make it illegal in Illinois to text message while driving and forbids the use of cell phones in school or construction zones, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

However, as the Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels and Annes pointed out on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog in August, Illinois was one of fewer than 10 states to pass such a law last year out of the more than 170 bills introduced nationwide, according to a separate report in The New York Times.

Despite the mounting evidence of the dangers of cell phone use while driving, and more recently of text messaging behind the wheel, The Times reports the mobile phone industry built a $150 billion business in the United States largely by winning over drivers.

In fact, early ad campaigns called them car phones and even featured executives bragging about dictating to their secretary while driving at 55 mph.

By 2007, the federal government estimated that 11 percent of drivers were talking on their phones at any given time. Seven years ago, researchers at Harvard estimated drivers using cell phones were causing more than 2,500 fatal crashes a year and more than 500,000 injury accidents.

In part because of the inherent dangers of text messaging, the Wireless Association, the industry trade group, supports bans on text messaging and no longer opposes banning the use of cell phones while driving, which have been adopted in a number of cities, including Chicago.

“This was never something we anticipated,” said Steve Largent, spokesman for the group, adding that distracted driving is a growing threat now that more than 90 percent of Americans have cellphones. “The reality of distracted driving has become more apparent to all of us.”

Safety advocates argue cell phone makers and service providers have paid little more than lip service to the dangers while producing increasingly complicated devices many motorists are using behind the wheel.

In late 1985, wireless companies had 340,000 customers. Only 10 years later, as the price of phones fell sharply, there were almost 34 million. Revenue for wireless service providers was soaring — to $16 billion in 1995 from $354 million in 1985. The industry had revenue of $148 billion in 2008, according to The Times report.

There were red flags as early as 1984, when AAA urged drivers to park before using their phones. Studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 1992 and the Canadian Ministry of Health in 1997 began to solidify the risk.

“This relative risk is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit,” researchers wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine. They said hands-free devices were no safer than hand-held phones because of the distraction that comes from focusing on a conversation, not the road.

Recently, the University of Utah showed drivers using cell phones face a four times greater risk of a crash.

“It’s been a very consistent picture,” said Chris Monk, a researcher for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which conducted an exhaustive study in 2005. “Frankly, I get a little annoyed that we continue to see studies that investigate the effects of cellphone use on driving, because they all show the same thing, whether you’re talking hands-free or not.”

Continue reading "Decades after Chicago debuted car phones to the world, area continues to strengthen ban to reduce Chicago car accidents" »

December 11, 2009

Slippery roads contribute to weekend Chicago car accidents

Snow plows and salt trucks hit portions of the Chicago metro area to start last weekend as the Breaking News Center reported slippery driving conditions contributed to several Chicago car accidents on Friday morning.

Also over the weekend, a woman died after driving her car into about 12 feet of water at the DuSable Harbor in Lake Michigan early Sunday morning, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago car accident happened shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday near Columbia Yacht Club on Lake Shore Drive.The car drove through a metal pole, down an embankment through a garden area and into the water.

Two divers pulled the driver from the water.

Elsewhere, a two-car accident lead to a fatality Sunday morning in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reported. The accident happened about 2:15 a.m. near the intersection of 58th Street and California Avenue.

On Thursday afternoon, a semi truck hauling a trailer of mud collided with a car near Veron Hills in a Chicago trucking accident that shut down traffic for more than two hours, the News Center reported.

The truck was westbound on highway 60 about 2:30 p.m. when it collided with a 2001 Chevy Cavalier turning northbound on to St. Mary's Road. The truck swerved for about 30 feet and took out a light pole before coming to rest in some trees. The truck's load did not spill. Both drivers were transported to the hospital; no charges have been filed pending results of the investigation.

December 9, 2009

Fatal Chicago drunk driving accident leads to criminal charges

A driver faces felony drunk driving charges stemming from a Sunday Chicago drunk driving accident that claimed the life of a 27-year-old Chicago man.

The Examiner reported that the 21-year-old driver was going the wrong way on a one-way street shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday when he struck a car at the intersection of 58th and California. The driver and his 20-year-old passenger were not injured in the crash.

ABC7 reported the at-fault driver's 1998 Chevy Lumina was traveling on 58th Street when he struck the driver's side of the victim's 1996 Buick Regal. The 27-year-old driver of the Buick was transported to Mt. Sinai Hospital by a Chicago Fire Department ambulance and pronounced dead at 3:27 a.m.

The driver is charged with Aggravated DUI in an accident resulting in death, DUI any amount of drug, Failure to reduce speed, Driving the wrong way on a one way street, Failure to yield the right of way, No insurance and Reckless driving, according to The Examiner.

Earlier this month on Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog, we reported that the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police have launched Operation Save 100, aimed at reducing Illinois traffic fatalities by at least 100 before the end of the year.

A total of 781 people had died this year on Illinois roads when the campaign was announced just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, compared to 883 during the same period last year.

However, the year-end holiday period is a particularly dangerous time on the roads, in part because of Illinois drunk driving accidents and winter weather.

Wet roads and dark commutes also contribute to fatal Chicago car accidents.

Chicago car accidents accounted for 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in Illinois last year.

December 7, 2009

Wet roads increase risk of Chicago car accidents

735498_snow_squall.jpg

Driving conditions are an often overlooked factor in serious and fatal Chicago car accidents.

As the winter driving season is ushered in amid heavy holiday travel, the Chicago injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes urge motorists to keep safety in mind while combating the ice, standing water, fog, sleet and rain on Chicago-area roads.

Of the 950 fatal Illinois traffic accidents in 2008, one in three occurred on wet, icy or snowy roads, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. A total of 140 fatal accidents happened on wet roads, while 82 fatal crashes occurred on icy or snowy roadways, according to the recently published "2008 Illinois Crash Facts & Statistics."

Another 20,000 motorists were injured on wet roads in Illinois last year.

Friday was the most dangerous day on the road in Illinois -- logging 58,474 crashes. Noon to 8 p.m., the most dangerous time of day, logging about 180,000 of the 340,000 urban crashes logged by time of day.

As Abels & Annes previously reported on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog, 40 percent of the state's fatal accident occur in the 5-county region encompassing Chicago.

Statewide, 115 crashes a day occurred in Illinois during 2008, claiming three lives per day and injuring 11 people an hour.

IDOT's "Ice and Snow, Take it Slow" campaign urges motorists to prepare for winter driving. Safety advice can be found on the state's winter driving tips page.

Continue reading "Wet roads increase risk of Chicago car accidents" »

December 5, 2009

At least 6 killed in Thanksgiving Holiday Chicago car accidents

At least six people were killed in Thanksgiving Holiday traffic crashes in the Chicago area, according to a preliminary tally by The Sun-Times.

-A man was killed in a Chicago pedestrian accident at about 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day in the 6900 block of Cicero Avenue after a vehicle traveling northbound struck another vehicle and continued on before hitting the 21-year-old Oak Lawn man. As we noted in a separate post at Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, the driver faces felony drunk driving charges. The pedestrian had reportedly run out of gas and climbed from his vehicle before being struck by the accused driver.

-Also on Thursday, a motorist struck a wall on I-290; a vehicle was involved in a Chicago bicycle accident in the 5600 block of West Lawrence Avenue; and a man crashed into a house with his pickup truck in the 9300 block of South Chicago Avenue. He was pinned into the vehicle and hospitalized in critical condition.

-Early Black Friday morning, a woman has hit by a car in an outlet mall in suburban Aurora.

-Friday night, a South Side one-vehicle accident sent eight people to the hospital, including six children.

-A Chicago car accident occurred early Saturday morning when a 63-year-old Joliet driver northbound on I-55 near Plainfield attempted to pass a semi and went airborne off the road. The driver was ejected from the vehicle.

-An 18-year-old Des Plaines driver was pronounced dead early Saturday after a Northeast River Road crash in which the vehicle left the road and struck a pole.

-A Chicago motorcycle accident on Saturday afternoon claimed the life of a 29-year-old Aurora man when his motorcycle struck an SUV that reportedly failed to yield while exiting a temple, as reported earlier on Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog.

-Saturday night a 2004 Nissan southbound on I-57 crashed shortly before midnight after the driver abruptly changed lanes and apparently lost control, according to the Illinois State Police. The 19-year-old driver was partially ejected and pronounced dead at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey at 12:07 a.m. Sunday.

-And just after midnight Sunday a rural Kendall County driver was killed when his pickup truck went off the road and caught fire after striking a tree.

The rest of the year-end holiday period is expected to remain a dangerous time for Chicago Car Accidents.

The state has launched Operation Save 100 in an effort to reduce Illinois traffic fatalities by 100 lives this year. Currently, Illinois is one of only 10 states to average more than 1,000 road deaths annually.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's is one of the deadliest times on the nation's roads -- 27 people were killed and 2,377 seriously injured in Illinois car accidents last year over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Nationwide the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported last year's Thanksgiving Holiday saw an increase in fatalities: 158 were killed, compared to 139 in 2007.

Statistics show drunk driving accidents and car accidents involving teenagers are responsible for a significant number of holiday traffic crashes.

December 3, 2009

Six children, two adults critically injured in holiday Chicago car accident

Six children and two adults were critically injured in a Chicago car accident over the Thanksgiving Holiday after their car struck a tree, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The accident occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Friday in the 900 block of West Garfield Boulevard after the driver swerved off the road for unknown reasons and struck a tree, according to authorities.

All eight occupants of the 1996 Buick Regal were listed in serious-to-critical condition following the Chicago car crash.

Those taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County include; a 50-year-old woman, a 55-year-old man and two girls, ages 3 and 5, according to police. A 5-year-old boy was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. Three boys, ages 9, 3 and 6-months, were taken to Comer Children's Hospital.

No citations were issued and the investigation continues, the Sun-Times reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that car accidents are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. A study in 2005 found that 1,335 children under the age of 14 were killed in car accidents and 184,000 were injured, or an average of 4 deaths and 504 injuries per day.

December 1, 2009

Chicago Thanksgiving drunk driving accident claims life of pedestrian

A 31-year-old Soutwest Side man faces charges stemming from a Thanksgiving Chicago drunk driving car accident that claimed the life of a pedestrian, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The 21-year-old Chicago pedestrian was killed after being struck by a car about 3:10 a.m. Thursday in the 6900 block of South Cicero Avenue.

The at-fault driver was reportedly northbound when he swerved into the southbound lanes and struck a car before continuing north and striking the victim, who was standing outside his vehicle. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn on Thursday morning.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported the victim had run out of gas and had climbed out to push when the accused driver's Chevy Equinox allegedly rear-ended an Oldsmobile and kept going before striking the victim.

The driver had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, according to the Tribune, and was held on $300,000 bail on Saturday. He faces several charges, including felony aggravated driving under the influence.

Last year in Illinois, nine people were killed and 961 injured in serious traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

As reported last week on our Chicago Injury Lawyer blog, about 40 percent of holiday fatalities nationwide involve a drunk driver compared to 28 percent during the rest of the holiday season, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

November 28, 2009

Women, teenagers, most likely to be injured in Chicago car accidents

Women and teenagers were most likely to be seriously injured in Illinois car accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation's 2008 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics report.

The Chicago injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes are published a series of blogs taking a look at the comprehensive traffic data here and on our sister site, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog. The latest data shows teenagers and women are at increased risk of injury as a result of a traffic accident.

Last year, an average of 1,115 Illinois traffic crashes claimed three lives a day and injured 11 people an hour.

Almost 20 percent of injury crashes injured 16,119 occupants ages 25 to 34, followed by drivers 35 to 44 (13,532 injuries) and 45 to 54 (12,491 injuries).

However, teenagers were at 5 times greater risk of an injury accident after being old enough to drive. Just 2,068 injuries were reported among kids ages 10 to 14 compared to 10,869 injuries in teenagers ages 15 to 19.

Women in every age group were more likely to be injured. Last year in accidents where age was reported, 45,260 women were injured in Illinois car accidents compared to 39,885 men.

Age 15 to 19
Men: 4,845
Women: 6,024

Age 20 to 24
Men: 5,120
Women: 5,811

Age 25 to 34
Men: 7,779
Women: 8,340

Age 35 to 44:
Men: 6,477
Women: 7,055

Age 45 to 54

Men: 5,963
Women: 6,528

Age 55 to 64
Men: 3,677
Women: 4,282

Age 65 to 74
Men: 1,722
Women: 2,045

75 and up
Men: 1,324
Women: 1,729

The holiday driving season is always a good time to brush up on safety. Here are 70 Defensive Driving Rules to live by, as published by Road Trip America. The State of Illinois also publishes a Parent-Teen Driving Guide for discussing safe driving habits with your teenager.

Continue reading "Women, teenagers, most likely to be injured in Chicago car accidents" »

November 26, 2009

Chicago drunk driving accidents a hazard to all motorists on Thanksgiving weekend

Chicago drunk driving accidents and drunk drivers nationwide pose a serious threat over the Thanksgiving Weekend. Nationally, Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimates we will share the roads with 2 million drunk drivers who have at least three convictions for drunk driving.

In 2007, nearly 1,500 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. Last year in Illinois, nine people were killed and 961 injured in serious traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Abels & Annes
reported on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog last week that Illinois authorities are hoping to reduce road fatalities by 100 deaths this year and are increasing traffic enforcement through the holidays period.

Through mid-November, 781 people died in Illinois traffic accidents compared to 883 during the same period last year. One-third involved a drunk driver, according to state statistics.

Last week, MADD announced progress in the third year of its campaign to eliminate drunk driving. The nationwide campign "Over the Limit, Under Arrest," will kick off December 14;and MADD reported a total of 12 states now require ignition interlocks to prevent convicted drunk drivers of driving while intoxicated.

MADD has these tips to help ensure everyone’s safety this Thanksgiving:
-Designate a sober driver before celebrations begin.
-Never serve alcohol to those under 21.
- Plan safe parties, including providing non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serving alcohol the last hour of the gathering.
-Be prepared to get everyone home safe.

Click here for MADD's Safe Party Guide

Continue reading "Chicago drunk driving accidents a hazard to all motorists on Thanksgiving weekend" »

November 24, 2009

Eight injured in seven-car Chicago car accident on the Dan Ryan

Thirteen ambulances were dispatched to a five-vehicle Chicago car accident over the weekend on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The chain-reaction crash occurred in the northbound express lanes of the Dan Ryan shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday in the South Side’s Bridgeport neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times.

The Chicago Tribune reported at least seven vehicles were involved and eight people were transported to area hospitals for treatment.

The crash happened where the express lanes meet the local lanes near the Chinatown feeder ramp, Illinois State Police reported.

Four vehicles were towed from the scene and several people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. Reports indicate one child was taken in good condition to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.

Two people were reported to be in critical condition -- one at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and another at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

Four others were reportedly in good condition at area hospitals.

A gray compact car and a sport-utility vehicle were among the vehicles involved and were towed from the scene, according to the Chicago Breaking News Center.

The northbound expressway was closed for about an hour. No citations were issued as state police continue to investigate.