Archive for the ‘Auto Accidents’ Category

Illinois and Indiana Continued Fight Against Drunk Driving Crashes with Ignition Interlocks

April 14th, 2015 by admin

Ignition interlock devices are hardwired into the car’s ignition, and the car will not start unless the person setting in the driver’s seat blows into the gizmo, allowing it to test their breath for alcohol.

Anyone driving the car must breath into the device, it does not differentiate between drivers. So, for example, if your teenager has to use an ignition interlock device on his truck and you have to drive it one day, then you’ll have to breathe into the gizmo before his truck will start.

Illinois Drunk Driver Ignition Interlock Devices: Pending Legislation

Right now, there is legislation pending in the Illinois House of Representatives that, if passed, will make drivers with 2 or more drunk driving convictions on their record to put a gizmo on their cars or trucks that does not allow them to start the car unless the gizmo confirms they are sober (by checking their blood alcohol level through a breath test).

Indiana Drunk Driver Ignition Interlock Devices: Push for Amendment to Current Law

In Indiana, a similar law is being promoted by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Right now, there is an Indiana statute regarding these “ignition interlock devices” requiring them to be used in Indiana starting in 2015. However, the law as currently written has been criticized as failing to meet its goal and instead maybe even making things easier for DUI convicted drivers.

Why? The current Indiana law provides for a special driving permit for the driver who has been convicted of driving drunk.

The special permit is given at the discretion of the judge as an alternative to the driver being suspended from driving. The suspension can be stayed by the judge and the special driving permit issued — allowing the convicted driver to keep on driving on Indiana roads. Under the special driving permit, the convicted person can still drive but they are restricted until a certain date from driving anywhere they want. These permits limit them to driving to and from work, to and from school, etc. They don’t have to use the gizmo.

The new law, being promoted by MADD, would require all drivers convicted of DUI to have these ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. If the new law is passed, Indiana will not only join Illinois but 23 other states that already force drivers with drunk driving convictions to have one of these breath-test gizmos on their cars, trucks, SUVs, etc.

What About Interstate Commercial Truck Drivers?

Drunk driving is a major cause of accidents and serious injuries in all sorts of traffic accidents here in our part of the country. It’s not just people driving their family cars or SUVs; it’s commercial truck drivers and bus drivers and other workers who are driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants.

These ignition devices are a good preventative measure but will they be used by truckers and other commercial drivers too? Good question.

10 Surprising Facts About Distracted Driving in Indiana and Illinois

April 9th, 2015 by admin

During this week where Indiana and Illinois police are going to be actively targeting teen drivers and young adults behind the wheel for distracted driving violations (see our previous post for details), and in conjunction with April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are 10 facts about driving while distracted that might be surprising.

10 Surprising Facts About Distracted Driving in Illinois and Indiana

Hey, Hoosiers and Illinoisans, did you know:

1. Distracted Driving is more than texting or talking on a cell phone. It can also involve things like:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.

2. 27% of those drivers that die in accidents caused by distracted driving are in their 20s.

 

3. Even though it’s only 5 SECONDS on average that you take your eyes off the road while texting, it’s the speed you’re driving that counts: do it while you’re going 55 mph and you’ve had your eyes off the road and out of control of your car for the length of a football field.

 

4. It’s NOT TRUE that headsets are safer than holding your phone in your hand while you talk and drive.

 

5. 20% of teenagers admit that they still have long text conversations while driving (several text messages back and forth).

 

6. Texting while driving is considered to be very dangerous because it requires the driver not only to look away from the road but to also use his or her hands as well as their thought processes on something other than driving their vehicle (texting involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction).

 

7. The federal government cannot pass laws that ban distracted driving, that is up to each state to decide.

 

8. In Indiana, there is a ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under the age of 18 and a ban on texting for all drivers.

 

9, In Illinois, there is a ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under the age of 19 and a ban on texting for all drivers. No driver is allowed handheld cell phone use.

 

10. In Illinois, bus drivers are banned from driving buses and using a cell phone (handheld or hands-free). Illinois also bans the use of any cellphones by drivers in a school zone or a highway construction zone. Indiana does not have laws like this regarding bus drivers, school zones, or construction zones.

 

Be careful out there, everyone!

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Will You Get A Ticket Next Week?

April 7th, 2015 by admin

This month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and here in Indiana and Illinois, that means more this year than media campaigns designed to educate people about the dangers of driving while distracted. This year, the Distracted Driving Campaign is targeting teenagers and young drivers and the police are getting involved.

Teens Are Ticket Target: April 10 – April 15, 2015

Beginning this Friday, April 10, 2015, through next Wednesday, April 15, 2015, drivers should expect to see a heightened law enforcement presence on our roads as officers are actively going to be monitoring drivers for young adults and teen drivers who are texting or using their phones while driving.

The Department of Transportation is coordinating this effort, and DOT Secretary Foxx has announced this year’s efforts are happening under the banner of “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

So, if you, your friends, or your children are going to be driving on the Indiana or Illinois roads next Friday through Wednesday, don’t be surprised if you get some police focus if you are a teen driver or a young adult behind the wheel.

Why Are Police Targeting Young Drivers in the April 2015 Distracted Driving Campaign?

The police are looking at you in the hopes that this National Distracted Driving Campaign will educate people and save lives.

“Distracted driving kills, there is no excuse for it, and it must stop,” said Secretary Foxx. “Across the country, we’re putting distracted drivers on notice: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Texting and driving will at least cost you the price of a ticket but it could very well cost you your life or someone else’s.”

From the NHTSA 2013 research, we know that distracted driving is particularly dangerous for young adults and teenage drivers:

  • 10 percent of fatal crashes with drivers 15-19 involved distracted driving
  • 18 percent of accidents where someone was hurt involved distracted driving
  • 16 of all motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as having a driver distracted at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers 15 to 19 years old is the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crash.

For more on the dangers of Distracted Driving, check out our earlier posts which include:

 

More and More Traffic Cameras in Indiana and Illinois: Does It Mean More Car Accidents?

April 2nd, 2015 by admin

All over the country, law enforcement has quietly had cameras placed alongside traffic lights which have been set up by private companies who contract with the local jurisdiction to assist law enforcement in catching drivers who are running red lights at an intersection.

Running a red traffic light is against the law and results in Indiana, for example, results in a fine of $100 or more (depending upon the county) as well as 6 points against your license.

Red Light Cameras

These red light cameras are gizmos that automatically take a photograph of a driver who runs a red light without the need for a police officer to be involved. They are overseen and maintained by private companies who not only take the photographs with their cameras but in many locations, also take on the job of sending out the traffic ticket to the driver who has been captured by their red light camera device.

In many parts of the nation, this has not gone without challenge. In Florida, for example, these red light camera tickets issued by a private third-party company have been dismissed in the courts. Judges there have ruled that only government entities can issues traffic tickets: if the private company set a red light ticket, then the Florida courts have ruled them to be void and the drivers don’t have to pay for them.

 

Maps for Red Light Traffic Cameras in Indiana and Illinois

These Red Light Cameras are all over the State of Illinois, too, by the way. To check out the current location of red light cameras, as well as other traffic cams, there are online maps of their locations:

Red Light Cameras in Indiana;
Red Light Cameras in Illinois.

Red Light Cameras Cause Traffic Accidents

It has been shown that red light cameras, instead of increasing traffic safety, actually cause MORE traffic accidents. The Washington Post, for example, has been following this story for several years, finding that red light cameras can be tied to accidents that involve:

  • Total number of accidents at intersections where red light cameras were installed DOUBLED;
  • Serious personal injury and fatal traffic accidents jumped up 81%; and
  • T-bone (right-angle or broadside) accidents increased 30%.

Pending Traffic Camera Legislation in Indiana: Speed Cameras in Construction Areas and School Zones

Now, the state legislature is considering another installing more traffic cameras for traffic control, where video cameras would be placed in construction areas and school zones to capture drivers who are driving too fast or who are doing other bad things like illegally passing a school bus.

These have already been in place in the State of Illinois since 2006.

Called “speed cameras” because they capture drivers who are driving over the speed limit, they work similarly to those cameras set up at intersections to capture drivers who run red lights. Once again, speed camera proponents argue that these devices work to make everyone safer on the roads.

Speed Cameras in Indiana and Illinois

Speed cameras are already in place in other parts of Indiana and Illinois roadways; these new traffic cameras, if approved by state lawmakers, would target the specific areas of construction and school zones.

Map of Indiana Speed Cameras  (green tabs);
Map of Illinois Speed Cameras  (green tabs).

House Bill 1404

The proposed legislation is House Bill 1404 and you can follow it online as it proceeds through the Indiana House of Representatives.

Are Speed Cameras Making Roads Safer? Many Say No.

The argument by those concerned about these traffic cameras is that they are NOT a means to increase traffic safety and that safety is not the real reason these cameras are being installed all over the place.  Instead, critics argue that the traffic cameras are really just a revenue source for communities and that speed cameras are simply creating more “speed traps.”

Additionally, they point to studies which show that speed cameras did not cause traffic to move at slower speeds and instead not only had drivers moving at the same or higher speeds than before the gadgets were in place, but that accidents increased after the cameras were installed.

 

Tires Cause Crashes: Air Pressure and Under-Inflated Tires are Dangerous

March 24th, 2015 by admin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new federal agency rule regarding Tire Pressure Warnings — which apparently took awhile to get passed and published.

An earlier version of the federal rule was challenged in a federal lawsuit and overturned.  After going back to the rulemaking table, the federal safety agency issued a new rule that will require systems that monitor the amount of air pressure in tires.

These new Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) alert the driver when the air pressure in one of their tires gets below a certain amount and is considered to be dangerously low in the amount of air in the tire.

These monitoring systems should be very helpful to many of us who drive cars, SUVs, minivans, and the like because drivers may walk around their vehicles and eyeball the tires, even give them a good kick or two, and still not be aware that the air pressure is too low and they have a dangerous situation to address.

Right now, these TPMS systems are only required to work on tires that come with the vehicle when it is sold and not on replacement tires.

Dangers of Under-Inflated Tires

Why is this important? It’s good because the public needs to know about the real risks of driving a vehicle without enough air in the tires. Simple enough to fix, and all to easy to procrastinate in checking the tires to make sure there’s enough air pressure in them.

 

Under-inflated tire results in tire worn down to cords.

 

From the NHTSA rule:

Under-inflation affects many different types of crashes. These include crashes which result from:

1. an increase in stopping distance,
2. flat tires and blowouts,
3. skidding and/or a loss of control of the vehicle in a curve, like an off-ramp maneuver coming off of a highway at high speed, or simply taking a curve at high speed,
4. skidding and/or loss of control of the vehicle in a lane change maneuver,
5. hydroplaning on a wet surface, which can affect both stopping distance and skidding and/or loss of control, or
6. overloading the vehicle.

The agency has quantified the effects of under-inflation in a crash involving skidding and loss of control, flat tires and blowouts, and the reduction in stopping distance. However, it cannot quantify the effects of under-inflation on hydroplaning and overloading the vehicles. The primary reason that the agency cant quantify these benefits is the lack of crash data indicating tire pressure and how large of a problem these conditions represent by themselves, or how often they are contributing factors to a crash. The agency has just starting collecting tire pressure in its crash data investigations.

Get Your Tires Check for Free at Discount Tire

There are some chains and service stations that will check your tire’s air pressure for free. For example, the Discount Tire chain in Indiana and Illinois offers free Air Checks — just drive in, they will check the air in your tires, no cost and you don’t have to exit your vehicle.  (Not a paid advertisement here — just that this is a great service, nice to share it.)

Now, The Car Recall Fixes Don’t Work – Feds Recall the Recalls

February 17th, 2015 by admin

There have been more recalls of cars being driven by trusting souls on American roads in the past year than ever before, and that’s shocking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over TWICE as many vehicles were recalled last year than in the previous record-breaking year of 2004, when 30,800,000 vehicles were recalled for product problems.

Fortune Magazine calls 2014 “the year of the recall.”

This is bad for all of us. Recalls in 2014 did not involve new cars fresh off the assembly line that needed a fix, for the most part. The great majority of recalls last year involved cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans that had been on the road for awhile. Some, as long as 10 years.

These vehicles may well have been involved in car crashes and traffic accidents where the recall problem was the real reason that the accident occurred, but fault was found to lie with one of the drivers. These drivers may need to revisit those assessments of liability and determine if they now have a claim against the car maker for what has happened to them.

See for example, the driver now seeking damages after being falsely accused of felony criminal liability in an accident where someone died as a result of the recall defect.

Additionally, in accidents happening now and in the future, the possibility that the fault for the crash lies with an inherent product defect involved in one of these recalls also has to be considered.  

It Gets Worse: Now, Recalls Aren’t Enough

This week, things got even more serious. The federal government announced that some recalls — impacting over 2,000,000 vehicles on U.S. roads — did not work. Now, they are RECALLING THE RECALLS.

That’s right. Scary, isn’t it?

Over two million Acura, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Pontiac, and Toyota vehicles are being recalled because their airbags may suddenly deploy. This is dangerous! It’s also something that was supposed to be fixed in the car manufacturers’ original recalls.

From NHTSA:

“This is unfortunately a complicated issue for consumers, who may have to return to their dealer more than once,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “But this is an urgent safety issue, and all consumers with vehicles covered by the previous recalls should have that remedy installed. Even though it’s a temporary solution until the new remedy is available, they and their families will be safer if they take the time to learn if their vehicle is covered and follow their manufacturers’ instructions. A hassle is much better than a family tragedy.”

To check to see if your vehicle is involved here, call NHTSA’s Safety Hotline ((888) 327-4236).

 

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For more information, visit the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group web site resource pages for Car Accident Injuries.

Is Your Teenager Wearing a Seat Belt While in the Car? Are You? New 2015 CDC Warnings Released

February 12th, 2015 by admin

Statistics show that traffic accidents and motor vehicle crashes kill more Americans than any other cause of death from the time that the person is born through the first 30 years of their life.

Car crashes are the main reason people between the ages of 1 and 54 die in this country.

It’s shocking to think that auto accidents are the main reason for infants, children, and particularly young adults to lose their lives in this country — and for many, these deaths could have been prevented in thy had been protected in the crash with car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.

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2015 CDC Seat Belt Facts

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new “fact sheets” and other research summaries regarding motor vehicle accident fatalities and how to fight against deaths in car accidents.

From the CDC we know:

  • 94% of the people riding in vehicles today, in both Indiana and Illinois, are wearing safety belts — and a significant number, 6%, are NOT. (This is a lot better than Ohio, for example, where only 82% are wearing seat belts.)
  • Over 2,200,000 people had to get treatment in an emergency room after being injured in an auto accident during the year 2012 alone.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are considered a major public health problem in this country.
  • Teenagers die from bodily injuries sustained in traffic accidents than from anything else.
  • Over half (55%) of those who were age 13 – 20 years of age who died in a traffic accident were NOT wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
  • Teenagers are less likely to wear seat belts than older adults and men are less likely to wear safety belts than women.
  • Wearing a safety belt cuts the chance of death in an auto accident by 50%.
  • Air bags are not an alternative to wearing a seat belt; they provide additional protection to the person wearing a safety belt.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed in a traffic accident, then it’s important to learn the reasons for this tragic life event — and if someone failed to insure that your child or teenager was buckled up before hitting the road, then you need to know about it as well as your legal avenues for justice when negligence has caused such severe harm.

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For more information, visit the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group web site resource pages for Car Accident Injuries.

Drug Use Behind the Wheel: 25% Driving Under Influence of Pot or Other Drugs

February 10th, 2015 by admin

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a new study regarding how many drivers are driving on our roadways while under the influence of drugs (as opposed to those driving drunk or under the influence of alcohol).

In a survey done across the country, where volunteers agree to be tested by researchers by a number of roadside “voluntary for research study up ahead” signs, anonymous drivers were tested by agency researchers.  This was done as part of the National Roadside Survey, something that has been done by the federal government 5 times in the past half-century.

The NHTSA has discovered that more and more drivers are getting behind the wheel after taking prescription drugs or smoking pot. The NHTSA Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers reports that in 2014, almost 1 in 4 drivers tested POSITIVE for at least one drug that could impact the ability of the driver to safely operate a motor vehicle.

In data gathered during their study done during 2013–2014, 20% of the weekend nighttime drivers turned up positive for drugs. Of the drugs found, the most common was THC, the intoxicant found in marijuana. As for drivers under the influence of marijuana, the number rose 50%.

From NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, “…the latest Roadside Survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes.”

How dangerous is the marijuana-influenced driver? Very.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse:

“Accident-involved drivers with THC in their blood, particularly higher levels, are three to seven times more likely to be responsible for the accident than drivers who had not used drugs or alcohol. The risk associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol appears to be greater than that for either drug by itself.”

What does this mean for drivers in Indiana and Illinois?

For those involved in car accidents or crashes involving big rigs, semis, minivans, or other motor vehicles, it’s important to know if the driver responsible for your accident and your injuries was under the influence of drugs, particularly marijuana, at the time of the crash. This may be more difficult to prove with admissible evidence than someone driving while drunk on alcohol because it is not as easy to test drivers at the scene of the accident for marijuana as it is for BAC (blood alcohol content).

While technologies are being advanced for use by local law enforcement, things like Breathalizers are not available for police to test drivers for pot after an accident has occurred.

Knowing that there is a 20% chance that the driver in your accident may have been under the influence of marijuana means that there is much higher likelihood that marijuana or other drugs may have been a factor in causing the crash. It’s a factor to be investigated in your accident, something that may not have been the case just a few years ago.

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For more information, visit the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group web site resource pages for  Motor Vehicle Accidents and Crash Injuries.

 

New Study: Almost 50% Drop in Car Accident Deaths

February 5th, 2015 by admin

According to a new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there has been a significant decrease in deaths caused by car accidents in the United States in the past 3 years. The IIHS tested around 3 dozen different types of cars on the American road today.

Their research shows a 41% drop in the number of traffic accident fatalities in this country.

That’s a huge percentage change — the number of traffic accident deaths cut almost in half. Which is great news, right?

More good news. The IIHS study revealed that several car models were so safe that not one death could be attributed to an accident involving one of these cars. NINE different models of automobile were found to be free of any recorded fatality:

Read the IIHS Status Report with all their research details.

Of course, the report also includes car models with the highest recorded number of fatalities.

The number one car on that list? A Kia Rio.

 

The Kia Rio was number one in Highest Rate of Driver Deaths in the IIHS Study.

Bicycle Accidents in Indiana Target of New Proposed Laws

January 27th, 2015 by admin

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 726 cyclists died and another 49,000 were seriously injured in accidents where the cyclist was hit in a motor vehicle traffic accident in 2012.   While not a huge number statistically, the fact that most bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles cause serious injury to those riding the cycle mean that these accidents are serious dangers and of particular concern, given that children and young adults (like college students) are often those who are sharing roads with cars and trucks while riding their bikes.

It’s a situation worthy of legislative concern.  In fact, there are two new laws being proposed by Indiana lawmakers this year that are targeting the dangers to people riding bicycles of serious injury and death in bicycle traffic accidents. Both would work to increase criminal laws for drivers who share the roads with bicyclists.

 

 

New Indiana Laws to Fight Against Serious Traffic – Bicycle Accidents

Each proposal would make it a Class C misdemeanor for a driver of a car, truck, SUV, minivan, or other motor vehicle to overtake a bicycle rider or bicyclist without keeping a minimum of THREE FEET between their vehicle and the bicycle when overtaking the bike and not waiting to return to their original lane until they were a safe distance from the bicycle.

What does this mean? If someone is convicted of a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana, they can be jailed for two months and fined $500.00. This is not law, yet — but it’s a good step toward helping keep people riding bikes safe on Indiana roads.

To track these new proposed bike safety laws:

Senate Bill 36

Citations Affected: IC 9-13-2-14; IC 9-21-8-5.

Synopsis:

Vehicle clearance when overtaking a bicycle. Provides that it is a Class C infraction for a person driving a vehicle overtaking a bicycle to not allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle and not return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle.

Effective: July 1, 2015.

House Bill 1233

Citations Affected: IC 9-13-2-14; IC 9-21-8-5.

Synopsis:

Vehicle clearance when overtaking bicycle. Provides that it is a Class C infraction for the operator of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle to not: (1) allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle; and (2) return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle. Revises the definition of “bicycle” for purposes of the motor vehicle code.

Effective: July 1, 2015