Call Us
Today
Visit Our
Office
Request an Appointment
Car Accidents
  • Personal Injury Law

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week

Distracted Driving

In support of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, from April 24 through April 28, Illinois has designated Distracted Driving Awareness Week. The Illinois Association of Police asked the governor to declare that week as National Driving Awareness Week. The goal is to bring awareness to the potential consequences and dangers that result from distracted driving. The governor and both houses passed resolutions, recognizing this week as National Driving Awareness Week in Illinois.

Why Do We Have National Driving Awareness Week?

We need to bring awareness to the potential dangers of distracted driving. Car accidents happen every day and phones are becoming smarter. Distracted driving has become a major cause of car accidents. This awareness may reduce the number of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2015:

  • 391,000 motor vehicle crashes occurred due to distracted driving.
  • About 3,477 people were killed due to distracted driving.
  • 10 percent of fatal crashes occurred because of distracted driving.
  • 15 percent of injury crashes occurred because of distracted driving.
  • 14 percent of police reported that a car accident happened because one or both of the drivers were distracted.
  • Texting and driving has become a big problem across the country, especially for young drivers between the ages of 16 and 24.
  • Young drivers have been observed using a handheld device while driving more than older drivers.

A AAA Foundation for traffic safety found that

  • While eight out of ten drivers thought it was unacceptable to text and drive behind the wheel, more than one third of those same drivers admitted to reading texts while driving.
  • Even though more people have died because of distracted driving recently, fewer drivers seem concerned about texting and driving.
  • Texting and driving is dangerous to everyone, not just the driver.

What Will Police Do During This Week?

In many counties across Illinois, there will be a higher level of enforcement of the state’s distracted driving laws. Volunteers will donate their time to help police departments. In some cities, if a volunteer sees a person using a handheld device while driving, a warning will be sent to that person via U.S. mail. Additionally, many officers will focus on distracted driving since the dangers are real, and since police want to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.

How You Can Manage Common Driver Distractions

Lake Street Accident

  • Turn off your phone when driving. It is very easy to be distracted when a driver sees his or her phone light up if it is sitting on the dashboard. However, this can result in a serious injury. It might be best to just turn the phone off and put it away. This would prevent any temptation to answer a phone call, reply to a text, or even check an email. If you do need to make a call, it is best to pull over to a safe place.
  • If there is a passenger in the car, and if you are using GPS, let the passenger navigate. This will give you both hands free and you can focus on the road.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, put on make-up, shave, or do anything else that takes your focus away from the road. Everyone is always on the move, but plan your time accordingly so you do not have to engage in these activities behind the wheel.
  • If you have pets in the car, make sure they are secured. Don’t let them run around the car and distract you.
  • If you have kids in the car, make sure they have everything that they need. This will keep you from having to search through the car for something that they need but cannot find.

Distracted Drivers – How Insurance Rates Increase

Distracted Drivers

As smart phones become smarter, drivers have a harder time keeping their hands off of their phones while driving. With every convenience and entertainment option at your fingertips, many drivers find it difficult to focus solely on the road while driving. Even with a  changing auto industry with smarter and driverless cars, car accidents are increasing across the United States. Some believe cell phone usage contributed to this increase. As drivers become more dangerous daily, insurance companies  increase their rates to keep up with the increasing number of accidents.

Distracted Drivers

Smart phones seem to lead to more distracted drivers. A survey conducted by a major insurance company revealed that 36% of people surveyed admitted that they texted behind the wheel and 29% admitted to browsing the internet while driving. Not surprisingly, a majority of these drivers who admitted to this behavior were between 18 and 29. Unfortunately, these least experienced drivers become susceptible to accidents as road conditions frequently change. Accidents easily happen in the blink of an eye. Additionally, the amount of people who own a smartphone has increased over the years, which means more distracted drivers on the road. As the chief executive of one major insurance company calls this an epidemic issue for the country.

Distracted Driving Increasing Insurance Rates

Distracted driving is not anything new. Insurance companies have dealt with distractions before. However, as smartphone technology increased, the problem worsened. One insurer expects to raise their insurance rates by 8% this year. In 2016, the increase was 6.5% increases.  Additionally, the average insurance rate across the country has increased by 16% since 2011. The average cost is up to $926 a year. Previously, many predicted that the rates would fall with the addition of many safety features such as anti-collision gear.  Lastly, the low prices of gas increases the number of drivers on the roads, which leads to more accidents.

Most Do Not Text and Drive

Although surveys state over 1/3 text and drive, recent government studies disagree. Researchers found that only 2.2% of their surveyed population texted while driving. In 2006, the survey stated .4%. However, insurance companies claim that this study does not fully capture the number of people who text or use their phone.  These studies done by the government relied on police reports and observations. Not surprisingly, some people may not admit to using a phone behind the wheel.  Moreover, car insurers investigate crashes to find out how it happened. So, they can stay on top of trends and may have more accurate statistics.

How Illinois Bans Distracted Driving

Illinois passed a law in 2013 that banned drivers from using cell phones in Illinois while driving. Drivers can only use cell phones if the driver is using hands-free technology. Otherwise, they need to pay a fine. Additionally, Illinois has a law that specifically bans texting while driving.

Safe Driving Tips for Cell Phone Users

An accident could happen at any moment even if cars are becoming more accident resistant. For that reason, drivers should leave their cell phones in their glove box or in an area where it cannot be reached. This will allow drivers to avoid the temptation of wanting to check email or surf the web while driving. Additionally, more accidents behind the wheel will lead to higher insurance rates, as studies have already shown this trend occurring across the United States. The best practice is just to keep off the smartphone while driving. It may save your life or somebody else’s life.

Are You and Your Family Ready to “Bug Out”?

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 — A Red Cross “ready to go” preparedness kit showing the bag and it’s contents. These kits are available from the Red Cross and the contents can be customized. Red Cross photograph

In order to be ready to “bug out”, or relocate in the event of an emergency, you and your family could benefit from having a bug out bag prepared and ready to go. A bug out bag is a portable kit, typically packed into a backpack type of carrier, which contains the items you and your family would need to survive for 72 hours in the event of an emergence or disaster. The main purpose of a bug out bag is to prepare you in the event you need to evacuate.

The term “bug-out bag” is related to the military practice of troops being prepared to evacuate or relocate if needed in times of war. It is helpful to have all of the items needed to evacuate in one place so you can evacuate in a hurry. The idea of having enough supplies for 72 hours comes from the estimated time it would take a disaster relief agency to be able to assist you in an emergency.

Here is a typical bug out bag list from Wikipedia with suggested items for your bag:

  • Enough food and water to last for at least 72 hours. This includes:
    • Water for washing, drinking and cooking–typically one gallon per person per day. Don’t forget water for your pets, too.
    • Non-perishable food
    • Water purification supplies
  • first aid kit
  • Basic cooking supplies
  • Fire starting tool).
  • A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes, etc.
  • Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster, studied and understood before the actual disaster but kept for reference.
  • Maps and travel information
  • Standard camping equipment, including sanitation supplies
  • Weather appropriate clothing and UV protection, including rain gear
  • Bedding items such as sleeping bags and blankets
  • Enough medicine to last an extended evacuation period
  • Copies of medical records for each person in the family
  • Pet, child, and elderly care needs
  • Battery or crank-operated radio
  • Lighting (battery or crank operated flashlightglow sticks)
  • Cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation
  • Positive identification, such as drivers license, state I.D. card, or social security card, plus any medical ID cards if you have them. Those with allergies should have a MedicAlert or similar ID.
  • Birth certificate or passport
  • Fixed-blade and folding knife
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Multi-tool, like a Leatherman
  • Duct tape and rope or paracord
  • Tarpaulins for shelter and water collection
  • Wire for binding and animal traps
  • Compass
  • Firearms and extra ammunition
  • Slingshotpellet gunblowgun or other small game hunting equipment
  • Small fishing kit
  • Signal mirror
  • Emergency whistle
  • Rubber tubing
  • Digestion care medicine for indigestion, stomach ache, nausea, and diarrhea

Some bug out bag lists available on the Internet contain as many as 104 items. You can pick and choose which items best meet your “bug out” evacuation needs: http://www.skilledsurvival.com/free-bug-out-bag-checklist/.

2017 Hon. Timothy C. Evans Law School Scholarship

Timothy C. Evans and Ron Wittmeyer

Ron Wittmeyer with Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Judge Neil H. Cohen at the 2016 NWSBA’s Judge’s Night

The Timothy C. Evans scholarship was established to honor the commitment and dedication that the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County has devoted to the Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA) and to the community of Cook County.

Who Is Timothy C. Evans?

As the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy C. Evans presides over one of the largest unified court systems in the world. Cook County has more than 400 Judges and more than 2.4 million cases filed annually. During his tenure as Chief Judge, Judge Evans has innovated safe haven programs for children of parents attending or guardians attending court. Additionally, he has been a tireless champion of expanding opportunities for women and minorities in the court system. Also, Chief Judge Evans led the effort to open the new, domestic violence courthouse located at 555 W. Harrison Street in Chicago, which opened in 2005.

The NWSBA Foundation, which was established to increase the association’s charitable reach, is honored to recognize Judge Evans’ contribution to the legal community through this scholarship.

In 2013, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans received the NWSBA’s Public Service Award at the NWSBA’s annual Judges’ Night. Also, Judge Evans was in attendance when Judge Neil H. Cohen received the Northwest Suburban Bar Association’s 2016 Public Service Award.

Who Is Eligible for the Timothy C. Evans Scholarship?

The Scholarship is available to law school students currently attending an Illinois accredited law school who reside in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. This division includes Lake, Kane DuPage, Cook, Will, Kendall, Grundy and LaSalle counties. The law student should have demonstrated a commitment to the highest scholastic standards. Additional considerations include scholastic achievement, involvement in school and extracurricular activities, in addition to financial need.

The deadline to apply for the Hon. Timothy C. Evans law school scholarship is March 23, 2017.

New Illinois Safe Driving Laws in 2017

Safe DrivingNew laws became effective in Illinois that should bring safe driving to the Land of Lincoln. Most Illinois drivers are familiar with “Scott’s Law.” The law requires drivers to change lanes or reduce their speed if a stationary emergency vehicle with lights activated. Usually, the emergency vehicles are pulled over the side of the road on the highway. Then drivers usually switch to the other lane when passing. The law aims to reduce the injuries of emergency vehicle drivers from  driver passing the vehicles. A new law extends the same courtesy to drivers pulled over with their hazardous lights on.

How Scott’s Law Affects Safe Driving

Named after a firefighter of the Chicago Fire Department, Lt. Scott Gillen, Illinois enacted Scott’s Law in 2000. Lt. Scott Gillen was assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Many call Scott’s Law the “Move Over” law because it requires drivers to essentially move over. If a driver breaks Scott’s Law, they could face up to $10,000 in fines and a suspended license.

Why has the law changed?

2016 became the deadliest year since 2008 this past year on Illinois roads. As with most driving laws, the main purpose of the law is to ensure that drivers get to their destinations safely. Police officers around Illinois will crack down on unsafe drivers. Their efforts will make sure educated drivers keep roads safer.

As a matter of fact, traffic fatalities reached 1,073 in 2016. The new year brings new goals, and one of the goals is to make Illinois roads safer. Some drivers already move over when there is a vehicle parked on the side of the road, so they will not be affected by the change. In the end, this law should be very beneficial. For instance, if a driver changes their left front tire on the shoulder, vehicles should move over. Now that there is a law requiring this, drivers can feel safer when they need to fix a tire.

What Other Safe Driving Laws Changed in 2017?

8213432552_d4d9b72269_oAnother law that changed in the new year: fines have doubled for cars who attempt to go around lowered railroad crossings has changed. The first offense will cost the driver $500, and any offense after that will cost the driver $1,000. This law has come into effect to keep drivers off the railroad tracks while the gate is coming down. If something were to happen while the driver is on the railroad tracks, it could result in a serious injury or even death. This law is further incentive for drivers to keep off the railroad tracks when the crossing guard is coming down. Additionally, if a driver is driving without insurance, and continue to drive without insurance, the driver could lose their vehicle in 2017.

The last law that has changed is the law that effects driving in school zones. Drivers who speed 26 miles per hour but less than 35 miles per hour through a school or work zone is now a class B misdemeanor, and going faster than 35 miles per hour is a class A misdemeanor and could land a driver in jail.

Safe Driving in 2017

We can only hope that these new laws will bring safer roads in Illinois. Since more than 1,000 people died in car accidents this past year, something needed to change. The fines are the last thing that people should worry about when looking at these new laws. Instead, drivers should abide by the new laws, and in the end, these laws could possibly save lives. It is a new year, so Illinois drivers should make a resolution to make the streets safer.

Chicago Holiday Safe Driving Tips

Holiday Safe DrivingWe hear it every winter – this one is going to be bad. From the Farmer’s Almanac to local weatherpeople, Chicago prepares for the worst! However, even with bad weather, people like to travel and need holiday safe driving tips. People cross state lines to see their family and friends. To ensure that everyone has a safe and fun holiday, remember to drive safely and pay attention to weather conditions. [Read more…]

Crosswalks: Being Safe While Crossing

Accidents in CrosswalksWith the beginning of the school year, more students walk as they head to school and will use crosswalks. Many parents rightfully worry about the safety of their children while walking to school. It is too often that pedestrians or bicyclers are killed or fatally injured while using a crosswalk. Recently, a Mount Prospect cyclist was killed after a driver failed to stop at a crosswalk. At this particular crosswalk, a special beacon flashed to warn drivers that someone is crossing. People wonder if a more effective way exists to warn and alert drivers of pedestrians in crosswalks. [Read more…]

O’Hare American Airlines Fire

Last month, eighteen passengers on aboard an American Airlines airplane had to escape after it caught on fire. The passengers are now suing the manufacturers and the carrier in Cook County. The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer sold a faulty engine and used the engine to assemble an unsafe aircraft. Around twenty people went to the hospital due to the American Airlines fire.

What Happened at O’Hare?

American Airlines Fire
161 passengers and other crew members evacuated the plane after it caught on fire. Hospitals admitted 20 passengers after the incident. The airplane caught on fire while on the tarmac. Apparently, the passengers only sustained minor injuries, but the injuries could have been much worse. Right before the flight was about to takeoff, a steel-alloy disk fractured into four pieces. A section pierced the fuel tank and ignited a fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board report issued after the American Airlines fire revealed that the engine was consistent with fatigue cracking. According to the report, the takeoff was aborted because there was uncontained engine failure and this led to fuel pooling under the right wing, which went up into flames. [Read more…]

Tammy Duckworth to Replace Mark Kirk

Tammy DuckworthThe 2016 election came with many surprises, but the election of Rep. Tammy Duckworth to the Senate surprised very few pundits. For now, Republicans have a majority of the seats in the House and the Senate. This means that it will most likely to push Republican policies through. This Tuesday, Illinois elected a new senator, Tammy Duckworth. Rep. Duckworth will replace Mark Kirk as senator. As of 2017, both Senate seats in Illinois are occupied by Democrats. While this election did come with many surprises, Duckworth winning the Senate seat did not come as a surprise to many.  [Read more…]

Voting Selfies Illegal in Illinois

As millions head to the voting booth on November 8, 2016, voters of all ages will try to pose with their ballot for voting selfies. The upcoming election has gotten people excited to vote for several different reasons. Some people are voting for to hope their candidate will win. Others are regular voters who have always undertaken in their civil duty to vote for their favorite candidates. And many are voting for the first time!

Additionally, more people are starting to vote early. Recently, Justin Timberlake made news because he violated Tennessee law when he took a picture of himself in the voting booth. Even though many Americans are excited to cast their ballot, they should definitely refrain from taking selfies in the voting booth or they may be punished criminally for this.

[Read more…]

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

Testimonials

The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, LTD
"Mr. Wittmeyer and staff are very knowledgeable, honest, and friendly to deal with. They will answer your questions and help you get the representation you need and deserve. They are very experienced and thorough with the cases they handle."

Client of Ron Wittmeyer
5 / 5 stars

More Testimonials