Abels & Annes

Articles Posted in Traffic Safety Legislation

1230143.jpgChicago has plenty of options when it comes to transit, but one of the most popular modes remains travel by private car. Those who own a vehicle should be aware that a new Illinois law will take effect on January 1, 2015 and will require all motorists to carry more insurance than the 2014 minimums.

For the first time in more than 25 years, the Illinois legislature has increased the mandatory minimum requirements for auto insurance in Illinois. The basic requirements will increase to $25,000/$50,000 – this means that the insurance carried by any driver must guarantee at least $25,000 worth of bodily injury coverage to any one person injured in an accident and a minimum of $50,000 of coverage for all victims of a single collision. Additionally, motorists must have at least $20,000 coverage for any property damage that may result. This is an increase of $5,000 per person injured, $10,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage over the 2014 minimums.

When a car accident occurs in Chicago, the financial toll involved often exceeds the current state insurance minimums, which led the Illinois legislature to consider alternatives. While the increase is not drastic and still provides minimum insurance levels below those of several other states, it will provide additional covers for the victims of car accidents who are hurt by the actions of others.

Carrying automobile insurance is a requirement in the State of Illinois and drivers must meet the new minimum standards beginning in 2015. The point of this coverage is to protect victims who did not cause a collision but were injured nonetheless, whether those victims were drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or even cyclists. Compensation can provide coverage for all losses incurred in a crash including medical bills, surgical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These victims have the right to retain an attorney of their choice and that lawyer may help you understand your legal options if a collision has affected your life.
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1151657_chicago_street_scene_1-sxchu-username-charlotel.jpgIllinois legislators are reportedly considering a measure designed to allow an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants in the state to obtain temporary motor vehicle operator’s licenses. Although the exact details of the proposed measure have not yet been finalized, lawmakers who support such a bill reportedly believe it would increase safety on roadways throughout the state as well as lower insurance costs. The proposed bill is expected to be considered in the Illinois General Assembly soon.

Although some lawmakers allegedly oppose the idea of allowing individuals who are in the country unlawfully to obtain a driver’s license, others have touted the idea as both economically and morally fair. The proposed legislation would expand a current program that allows foreign nationals who are in the United States legally to obtain a temporary vehicle operator’s license. It would require applicants to provide a both a passport and proof of residency in Illinois. Most importantly, such a measure would require drivers to pass a written, road, and vision test and obtain liability insurance. Still, the driver’s licenses issued would not be allowed to serve as a valid form of identification for illegal aliens.

Despite that similar measures have failed twice in the past, Governor Quinn stated he would sign the proposed bill if it is passed. According to Governor Quinn, the proposal is primarily a consumer safety measure. Across the United States, unlicensed motorists are reportedly five times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than motorists who possess an operator’s license. The Illinois Highway Safety Coalition claims uninsured and unlicensed motorists are involved in almost 80,000 automobile crashes throughout the state every year. In addition, those crashes reportedly result in an estimated $660 million in damages, including about $64 million in property damage claims. In 2011, almost 48,000 citations for driving without a valid license were issued in Cook County alone.

According to the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition, the proposed law could save Illinois automobile insurance customers approximately $46 million in annual premiums. If passed, Illinois would be the third state, along with New Mexico and Washington, to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a temporary driver’s license.

In Chicago, many of us spend a lot of time in our cars. With countless people on the roadways, collisions are bound to occur. A number of factors such as driver inexperience, inattention, or impairment can result in a tragic or fatal automobile accident. Although unlicensed drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle on Illinois roadways, many choose to ignore the law and drive anyway. If you were involved in a crash that was caused by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for any damages you incurred as a result. A skilled car accident attorney can help.
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Last month a nurse was struck by a passing vehicle as she was helping a motorist who had driven into a ditch. This Illinois car accident happened along U.S. 51 in Jackson County, between Carbondale and DeSoto and killed the nurse.

Authorities are still investigating the scene, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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Our Chicago car accident attorneys remind you of Scott’s Law, or the Move Over Law as the summer travel season gets underway. Scott’s Law is meant to protect stationary vehicles, especially emergency responders and other law enforcement with activated lights.

According to the Illinois State Police, Scott’s Law requires drivers to approach these types of vehicles with extreme cautions, yield the right-of-way, move to the lane farthest from them and reduce your speed.

These requirements should be enforced to help those stranded motorists on the side of the road as well, whether they’re stopped because their vehicle is broken down, they’ve been involved in a fender bender or they have a flat tire.

Violating Scott’s Law can land you with a fine of up to $10,000 or license suspension.

This law is created to protect those that may be immobile on the side of the road. It is all too common that a motor vehicle accident leads to a secondary accident or injury. Those who stop to help troubled motorists oftentimes put themselves at an even greater risk for injury.

Motorists are urged to follow these roadside safety tips if you have to stop your car along the side of the road:

-Pull over and off the road as far as you can.

-Be sure to turn on your hazard lights to help ensure other motorists will see you pulled over.

-Call police to let them know you are pulled over on the side of the road and let them know the reason.

-Be sure to keep 2 reflectors in the trunk of your car. Place one in the front and one in the back on your vehicle. Be sure they’re placed at least 50 feet away from your car.

-If it is the daytime, make sure that you and your occupants exit the vehicle. If you’re pulled over in the evening hours it’s safer for you to remain in your vehicle.

-Call a mechanic if your car has broken down. In these scenarios, it is better to call for the help of a professional than to attempt to fix it yourself.

-If you’ve stopped to help a stranded motorist, be sure to stay away from the vehicle, all safety precautions are being exercised and you’ve called for help.
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The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a distracted driving summit in Washington, D.C. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in an effort to combat car accidents caused by distracted driving, specifically the use of cell phones and text messaging while behind the wheel.

Earlier this summer the Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes blogged about Illinois’ leadership role in banning the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving — the state’s new text-messaging ban was one of fewer than 10 tough new distracted-driving laws passed out of more than 170 that were introduced nationwide last year, according to a report by the New York Times.

Illinois’ text-messaging ban (as well as a law banning cell phone use in school zones and road construction sites) became law last month and takes effect Jan. 1. Violators face a fine and repeated violations can lead to license suspension.

The City of Chicago already has a law in place prohibiting drivers from using cell phones.

The federal government estimates more than 4,000 people a day are in an auto accident as a result of distracted driving.

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results.”

LaHood called the summit a “crucial first step in our efforts to put an end to distracted driving.”

In June, the Chicago personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes wrote about distracted driving as part of its Safe Driving Series.

Nationwide, 80 percent of accidents are attributed to distracted driving — more than 1.5 million drivers will get into an accident this year because of driver distraction.

From a California commuter train accident that killed 25 people, to a Florida trucking accident that claimed the life of a former lawmaker’s daughter, high-profile incidents attributed to text messaging continue to make news.

The American Trucking Association has pledged its support for the summit with the hope of reducing truck accidents attributed to distracted driving.

“Improving driver performance by eliminating distractions, including those caused by text messaging, will greatly improve the safety of all motorists,” ATA president Bill Graves said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation promises concrete steps will be taken following the summit.

“The bottom line is, distracted driving is dangerous driving,” LaHood said. “I plan to announce a list of concrete steps we will take to make drivers think twice about taking their eyes off the road for any reason.”

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Illinois residents convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol will have a tougher time repeating their mistakes starting in 2009. As the Rockford Register Start reported, a new state law takes effect Jan. 1, 2009, requiring first-time offenders to install a breathalyzer-like device in their vehicles if they wish to continue driving to essential destinations like work during a license suspension. This ignition interlock device requires drivers to breathe into a tube that tests their breath for alcohol before the vehicle will start. Drivers must pay for the installation and lease of their own devices, as well as a monthly monitoring fee; they may also choose to bypass these costs by not driving at all while their licenses are suspended.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Illinois is one of eight states with a law requiring an interlock device for anyone convicted of DUI. Ten others, including Missouri and Kansas, require it for offenders with a high blood-alcohol concentration or for repeat offenders, and Oregon requires one for people whose licenses are reinstated after a DUI license suspension is over. The new Illinois law is close to MADD’s model law, which calls for a device to be installed within about a month of any DUI conviction.

Drunk driving, and driving under the influence of drugs, is an accident risk so well-known that it’s almost a cliche. As an Illinois auto accident lawyer, I see the destructive effects of intoxicated driving more often than I’d like — wrongful deaths, serious burns, head injuries and other very serious injuries. A breathalyzer device on the ignition can cut down on those tragedies by providing an objective test of whether the driver is safe to drive.

Chicago saw three accidents with fire trucks in as many days in November, according to NBC Chicago. In a Nov. 8 accident, a woman drove her car into the side of a fire truck at around 10 a.m.; she told authorities that she couldn’t tell where the siren was coming from, although a spokesman for the Fire Department said other traffic at the intersection was stopped. On Nov. 6, another woman failed to yield to a fire truck, causing the truck to hit her car and then a building.

In the third accident, on Nov. 7, a man ran a stop sign into the path of a fire truck. The impact pushed the man’s car into a pole and two parked cars. The man was not badly hurt, but has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Fortunately, only one firefighter was hurt in the three accidents, on Nov. 6; firefighters even stopped and gave first aid to the man who ran the stop sign.

As a Chicago auto accident lawyer, I have worked with many clients who needed help from emergency medical technicians right after their accidents. Sometimes, that help has made the difference for them — but time is important. You can help by pulling to the side of the road for emergency vehicles whenever possible, or staying put when you’re stopped at an intersection with two-way traffic, even when you have a green light. That said, I also know that emergency vehicles sometimes fail to use their lights and sirens when they should. When that’s the case, innocent drivers who hapen to be nearby can be hurt.