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The Risks of Teen driving: A Guide for Parents

The Risks of Teen driving: A Guide for ParentsBecoming a good driver takes practice, which is why new drivers—including teens—have higher rates of traffic fatalities. Teens starting out on the road need guidance, as there are many risks they face as new drivers. Parents play a vital role in teaching their teens to become good drivers, so it’s essential parents be aware of the risks teens face behind the wheel.

 

The Risks Your Teen Faces

 

Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year-olds. This vulnerable age group faces dangers such as distracted driving and riding with inexperienced drivers. You can help mitigate these risks by having an open conversation with your teen about the dangers of driving and providing him or her guidance on how to be a safe and defensive driver.

 

Reducing the Risk

 

Distracted driving is one of the biggest risks today’s teen faces when on the road. Teens face the pressures of staying in constant contact with friends and the online world and are more inclined to want to make the most of their technology—and newfound freedom—by using GPS and other mobile navigation technologies. You should warn your teen of the dangers of using mobile devices while driving, but make sure you set a good example yourself. Model responsible behaviors by getting directions before you start the car, pulling over to take calls, and otherwise staying mobile-free while behind the wheel.

 

Peers can distract teens even more than mobile devices can. Teens who drive with peer passengers face higher rates of traffic fatalities. Unfortunately, more than half of teens who die in car crashes are passengers themselves. Go over the importance of wearing seat belts, and always wear a seat belt yourself when driving with your teen. Also, enforce graduated driving laws, and limit the passengers your teen can drive with to adults only until he or she becomes a more experienced driver.

 

Practice Makes a Difference

 

Lastly, make sure your teen gets more than enough practice. Practice in different conditions, such as day and night, and fair and inclement weather. Practice doesn’t make perfect when it comes to driving, but it can increase the chance your teen can safely avoid an accident.

 

Safe driving comes with practice. But many teens get into accidents while learning how to drive. Make sure you work with your teen on safe driving habits and help them navigate the insurance claim process if they do get in an accident. Speak with an experienced Illinois auto accident attorney if you need guidance. An attorney can advise you on what could potentially happen to your auto insurance rates, explain the claims process, and make sure your rights—and those of your teen—are protected.

 

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

 

How to Safely Enjoy the Fall Foliage

How to Safely Enjoy the Fall FoliageThe best time to view fall foliage in Illinois is mid-to late October. During this time, expect to see distracted leaf peeping out of towners on the road. Unfortunately, many locals dread this time of year because these distracted drivers not only slow your commute, they can cause accidents as well.

It’s no wonder locals find leaf peepers a nuisance. Slowing down, failing to signal, or stopping on a through way—easy to do when trying to catch a glimpse—are dangerous and frequently cause accidents.

Tips for Safe Viewing

To ensure you can enjoy the fall foliage in Illinois safely, follow these tips.

Be Aware of the Risks

When drivers are distracted by nature in all its glory, they can put other drivers on the road at risk. Drivers viewing the leaves commonly drive slower than traffic and often make driving maneuvers without properly signaling. Stay alert so you can recognize distracted drivers, and give them plenty of room, so you can quickly and safely maneuver around them and avoid collisions.

Know the Rules

The Illinois rules of the road handbook provides guidance on what to do when someone is blocking a lane or driving unsafely. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these rules, so you know the legal—and safe—action to take when dealing with negligent drivers.

Be Cautious When Driving on Leaves

After that first rainstorm, expect to see some of those beautiful leaves on the street. Although they make for beautiful pictures, wet leaves are slippery and cause accidents by obscuring the road. Drive slower on leaves, and turn with caution.

Help When You Can

You can also contribute to keeping our roads safer during fall foliage season by helping people from out of town locate the best areas for viewing leaves and the safest pull out spots.

Leaf peepers aren’t the only risk you’ll face on the road this fall. Deer in mating season, more kids out due to school, and leaf debris on the road can all contribute to accidents. So, follow the tips above and stay safe when viewing the beautiful foliage this fall!

 

If you’ve recently been in an accident and want compensation for your losses, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Safe and Slow: Reducing the Risks of Back to School Season

Safe and Slow: Reducing the Risks of Back to School SeasonBack to school season means more children are walking to and from school, riding the bus, and playing sports outdoors. Because more children are out and about, driving safely and aware is more important than ever.

A Safe Start

To have a safe and successful start of the new school year, follow these tips:

Lower Your Speed

Most school zones have lower speed limits than surrounding areas—usually 20 mph—but when the school day is just starting or ending, you may want to drive even slower. Exercise caution when kids are crossing the street, loading the bus, or getting picked up. Heed the speed limits; they are there for a reason. Children are unpredictable and can easily find their way into the road before you have time to stop. Also, expect steeper fines for speeding in a school zone.

Stay Aware When Near Schools

You might see crossing guards and school safety personnel in school zones. They help keep traffic moving and the kids safe. Many schools have crosswalks that are closely monitored during school hours. Expect to drive slowly and carefully whenever in a school zone.

Give Buses Room

Be extra careful near school buses. Again, children can be unpredictable, and you can face steep fines for illegally circumventing buses while they load and unload kids.

Take Your Time

Back to school season comes with higher risks but also more distractions and priorities. When coupled together, these two factors pose a deadly risk. It is illegal to use a hand-held device or text while driving in Illinois. Even activities like eating or drinking can be distracting enough to harm someone. Don’t risk it. Get up a little earlier, so you don’t feel the need to multitask behind the wheel.

The start of school can be a fun time of the year. But in the midst of all the excitement, make sure you practice safe driving and stay on guard. And if you’re involved in an accident, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An Arlington Heights personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and help you seek fair compensation step by step.

 

If you or a loved one were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

 

 

When on Two Feet or Two Wheels, Auto Accidents Can Be Catastrophic

When on Two Feet or Two Wheels, Auto Accidents Can Be Catastrophic

In cities, growing suburbs, villages, and small towns across Illinois, more and more people are biking and walking in the face of rising fuel costs and the drive toward more eco-friendly means of transportation. Unfortunately, until infrastructure catches up with this trend, not every thoroughfare is pedestrian and bicycle friendly, putting those who forgo the car commute at a greater risk of being hit while on the road or in crosswalks.

 

Auto accidents involving bicyclists or pedestrians tend to result in serious—even catastrophic—injuries. When up against more than a ton of metal, the human body stands no chance. Some pedestrian and bicycle accidents are fatal, which begs the question of what can we do to increase the safety of biking and walking both immediately and long term.

 

This increasing safety risk is not lost on many suburban cities, towns, and villages. The village of Arlington Heights has taken steps to implement a revised Arlington Heights Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which includes safety measures to reduce the risk pedestrians and bicyclists face. Neighboring areas like Palatine, Mount Prospect, and Buffalo Grove have taken similar steps.

 

The plan revision builds upon existing efforts to help the Village of Arlington Heights gain Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists and make the entire village more walkable and less car-dependent. Steps such as mapping bikeways, implementing safer crosswalk beacons, increasing bicycle signage, and improving sidewalk safety are meant to reduce the risk of accidents.

 

Regardless of who has the right of way, pedestrians and bicyclists should always exercise extreme caution when on sidewalks or roads. Distracted motorists often fail to see pedestrians and bicyclists, and indeed this is a common contributing factor to accidents. To reduce your risk of getting in an accident, make sure you are visible at all times, and try to make eye contact with motorists when crossing the street. Many pedestrian and bicycle accidents result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities, so take appropriate precautions whenever near or on the road. And, as always, look, listen, and be aware no matter your mode of transportation.

 

If you’ve been in an accident as a pedestrian or bicyclist and were injured, speak with an experienced Arlington Heights pedestrian and bicycle accident attorney. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have a right to fair compensation for your losses. And we understand those losses could be substantial if you’ve been hit by a car. An attorney can help you determine who is liable and seek compensation for your losses.

 

If you’ve suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

Safety First! … Wear a Backseat Seat Belt

seat belt

Did you know: nine out of ten American front seat car passengers report wearing a seat belt in the front seat? However, according to a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the same cannot be said for backseat passengers.

The IIHS surveyed a group of adults regarding their seat belt habits. Most adults said they understood the importance of always wearing a seat belt in the front seat. However, the study showed that adults believe the back seat is safer. Therefore, adults buckled up less often in the backseat. According to the IIHS, “4 out of 5 surveyed…say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.” In total, only 72% of the adults surveyed reported wearing a seat belt in the backseat. 91% wore a seat belt in the front seat.

The Common Misconception: The Back Seat Is Safer

The backseat being safer than the front seat of a vehicle is a common misconception. Seat belts matter regardless of where a person sits in a vehicle. Over half of the people who die in vehicle crashes in the United States every year do not wear their seat belts. If you have been involved in an accident with another car with individuals who did not wear their seat belts, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today. While many believe they should wear seat belts to protect themselves from injury, all riders should wear seat belts.

According to the IIHS study, when a backseat passenger does not wear a seatbelt during a collision, that unbelted passenger “can slam into the driver’s seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35 mile per hour impact.”  Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study, states “in the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries.”

As part of the study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a simulated car crash. The findings? Vehicle drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured in collision when the passenger behind the driver is not wearing their seat belt.

Collision Injuries

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that unbelted backseat collision injuries and deaths became of high interest after such incidents as the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and newsman Bob Simon in 2015. Jermakian states “That crash brought a lot of attention to the issue, but people still think they are safer in the backseat and they don’t need to buckle up.” However, Jermakian says that it is quite the opposite. “…The laws of physics aren’t suspended just because you’ve moved to the backseat. You still need to buckle up to get the best protection in a crash.”

In line with the old saying, seat belts do save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that seatbelts saved 13,941 lives in 2015. When seatbelts are worn, the risk of death of front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent for cars and increases to 60 percent for passengers of SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans. The Administration additionally estimated that 2,800 deaths could be prevented if everyone buckled up when they got into a vehicle.

Buckle Up for Safety

So, buckling up is clearly important. But what are car companies and legislation makers doing make sure people buckle up?

A few things such as:

  • alert tones
  • warning lights
  • strong, well-communicated laws

And surprisingly, these things are encouraging passengers to buckle up. According to the IIHS study, 75 percent of the surveyed said they would buckle up if they were reminded to do so. Another 73 percent said they would buckle up if the driver was concerned about being pulled over for an infraction. 62 percent of those surveyed said they would buckle up if they had an audible reminder.

While car makers are listening to survey results and installing seat belt reminding technology, legislators are working to pass laws requiring drivers and passengers alike to wear seat belts. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. require rear passengers to buckle up. Of those 30, 20 states have primary enforcement rules, or rather rules stating that police can pull over a car specifically because someone isn’t wearing a seat belt. Illinois is one of these states.

There is no new advice when it comes to wearing a seat belt.

It’s simple.

Buckle up!

Road Trip Troubles: Handling Out of State Accidents

Road Trip Troubles: Handling Out of State AccidentsSummer travel is synonymous with road trips. As the summer winds down, many Illinoisans hit the open road to enjoy one last adventure. But because of increased traffic, road construction, and common distractions, summer also tends to see an increase in auto accidents. Accidents are inconvenient at any time and any place but even more so when you’re out of state. Not only do you need to file a claim, but also you may be far from home and unfamiliar with the driving laws in that state. To deal with an out of state auto accident, follow these simple steps:

 

Contact your insurance agency to open a claim. You will be assigned an adjuster who will then inform you of what to do next. The claims process for an out of state accident can vary from provider to provider, so this should be your first step after helping others at the scene of the accident and reporting the accident to the authorities. Your adjuster can also brief you on your policy benefits, such as rental car allowances and towing.

 

Next, understand that your accident will be handled under that particular state’s jurisdiction, not necessarily your state of residence. This is important to remember because each state’s laws vary regarding issues such as liability and insurance minimums, which can complicate your case. Ideally, you would briefly familiarize yourself with the laws in the state(s) you plan on driving through and potentially talk to your insurance provider about adjusting your coverage to ensure you will meet that state’s minimum requirement. This can be a lot of legwork, especially if you are planning on driving straight through some states but know that many states have minimum insurance requirements that exceed those in Illinois.

 

You should also call an attorney. An experienced Arlington Heights auto accident attorney can help you understand how the laws in the state of your accident could affect your claim and your right to compensation. Although these types of cases can be a little more complex due to the jurisdiction, a good attorney can advise you on how to file a claim and seek the compensation you deserve.

 

Don’t let the risk of an accident spoil your road trip. This country is meant to be explored! Just make sure you keep a few safety tips in mind such as keeping your car well maintained and in road trip shape and reducing your distractions by leaving the navigation to someone else and keeping kids occupied in the back. These steps can help you stay safe on the road, so you can enjoy your trip.

 

Filing an insurance claim can be confusing, but Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

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.

[Read more…]

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…]

Car Insurance Rates Increase With Accidents


Got Car Insurance?Everyone has car insurance. Or at least the law requires everyone to have car insurance. But no one wants to use their car insurance! After a car accident, the driver files a claim with the insurance company if he or she wants to be reimbursed for the damages. Yet, when the damage is minor, a lot of drivers try to avoid filing minor claims. They fear a claim will trigger a higher premium for their car insurance.

Recently, analysts tied the rise in car insurance rates to an increase in accident rates. They point to distracted driving and drowsy driving as the cause. These conditions have led not only to higher insurance premiums, but also many fatalities. Drivers absolutely need to pay closer attention to the road when behind the wheel. [Read more…]

About the Firm


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

About Ron

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