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Illinois Allows Testing for Autonomous Cars

Self-driving cars will soon be on the roads of Illinois. Many are excited to move forward and see how the new technology will be benefit their lives. However, skepticism remains for many lawmakers. They worry about liability if the self-driving cars malfunctioned and caused accidents. Recently, an accident in Arizona involved an Uber self-driving car.

Autonomous Cars Executive Order

The Illinois Department of Transportation, through an executive order from Governor Bruce Rauner, can allow for testing of autonomous (self-driving) cars on the roads of Illinois. The executive order just allows testing of the cars. Rauner stated that these cars the “future”. He predicted they will permanently change roadways in the next five to 10 years.

Beginning this winter, the testing phase will begin, but a driver remains behind the wheel. Gov. Rauner said in a statement, “Working without public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.” Proponents of autonomous vehicles promotes the technology through safety, fuel efficiency and increased access to transportation, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities.

According to the governor’s statement, the automated vehicle industry expects to generate $800 billion annually nationwide by 2050. This includes creation of jobs and fuel saving. The technology hopes to reduce the number of car crashes by vehicle by 94 percent due to human error. The Autonomous Illinois program will connect interested universities, research institutions and other technology partners to test the techonology.

Liability Issue Questions Surround Autonomous Cars

Although lawmakers are showing support for the autonomous vehicle testing, they also question the liability issue in case of collision. According to the executive order, the vehicles will be covered by insurance or other type of financial responsibility but it still doesn’t make it clear whether the person in the driver-less vehicle is liable for the accidents.

Alderman Edward Burke raised concerns when he had attempted to ban the introduction of self-driving cars. He fears that hackers or terrorists could infiltrate the technology for malicious uses. Burke also directed concerns towards the job losses that delivery services and driving companies will face. In the past, Burke has taken several measures throughout the years to protect the taxicab companies from the new and innovative technological vehicles that soon will take over the industry.

If autonomous cars do become the primary form of transportation, changes to the zoning and city planning will have to be done. Road way infrastructure will need changes. Roadways that currently accommodate human error with wide streets, guardrails and lane markings and signs may disappear creating more rooms for pedestrians and bike lanes. Though Illinois has only taken the first step to introducing testing for autonomous cars, we should keep in mind the changes the cities would have to go through to accommodate the new technology.

Fall Bike Safety Tips

fall bike

As the leaves change and the temperatures drop, many jump on their bikes to explore the Northwest suburbs. You can see all of the Halloween decorations in your neighborhood. And you can experience the beautiful foliage in our state and county parks. But unfortunately, the change in weather can lead to more bicycle and pedestrian accidents.

[Read more…]

Bike Walk Education in Schools Act

Bike Walk Education

When previously discussing pedestrian accidents, we noted that children have a high risk of injury. Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school. However, previously, Illinois had no requirement to educate children on how to bike and walk safely.

In 2018, the legislature introduced the Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799). It required school boards statewide to adopt policies for educating K-8 students about biking and walking safety. Then they would review/update these policies every two years. Schools boards determine how best to implement the requirement in their schools. Walking and biking safely helps kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

Governor Rauner signed the bill at the end of August. The law takes effect July 1, 2018. [Read more…]

New Driving Safety Laws Signed into Illinois Laws

Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new driving safety measure laws this month. The first cracks down on distracted driving. The second encourages motorists to watch for bikes. The new law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.Under the current law, which took effect in 2014, first-time offenses were treated as non-moving violations while subsequent offenses were treated as moving violations. Therefore, starting next summer, people caught texting while driving become a moving violation that will go on their driving record – even if it’s their first offense.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jesse White said, “No driver should be texting while driving. With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.”

Specifically, the new law makes the penalty $75 for a first offense. The subsequent fines include:

  • $100 for a second,
  • $125 for a third and
  • $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Dutch Reach Method of Opening Doors

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This forces people who open motor vehicle doors to look back for cyclists and other traffic. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, this can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes. To reduce pedestrian accidents, educating the public on new measures can reduce injuries.
The lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. Got example, in 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the new law, the Secretary of State shall include this method in the Illinois Rules of the Road publication. The publication will  advising drivers to use the Dutch Reach method when opening a vehicle door after parallel parking on a street. The method may appear on the written driving test concerning questions about safety.

In 2019, remember these two new driving safety measures.

 

How the Chicago Suburbs Help Pedestrians


pedestrians

250 fatal accidents and 9,290 serious injuries have occurred between 2012 and 2015 in accidents involving a suburban vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist.  In 2015, fatal collisions among pedestrians or cyclist and vehicles rose  14% according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

How Bensenville and Elk Grove Village Reacted

Bensenville experienced 11 crashes among vehicle and bicyclist or pedestrian. Among those accidents, an 86-year-old pedestrian, Modesta De La Rosa was involved in a collision with a pickup truck. The driver did not see her and therefore could not stop in time.

Bensenville decided to act and to create a series of paths along the roads. These paths could be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The town will build these paths alongside the streets to give pedestrians and bikers space to walk or ride their bikes without the fear of getting too close to the vehicles. The bike path also helps vehicle drivers. It will comfort them by showing that  pedestrians and bikers have their own lane. The goal is to decrease the chances of sharing the same road.

After Roseleen Water’s unfortunate death in 2013, Elk Grove Village decided to erect a bridge over the high-speed road. She died after a fatal accident on Higgins Road. They designed the bridge to prevent other crashes and provide pedestrians and cyclist the freedom to cross to the other side safely.

Overall, in the past few years, many other suburbs have built and plan to build similar paths. Current plans across the region over 4,000 miles of trials and paths. Overall, safety for the pedestrians and bikers have become high priority for the suburbs.

[Read more…]

Mount Prospect Pedestrians Crossing Study

Improvements at various crossings along Central Road in Mount Prospect could come to fruition. After several years of studies, the village wants to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The village’s Strategic Plan has identified top priorities for pedestrian and bicyclist safety in high volume areas. The plans come two years after a Mount Prospect mother of five died after being hit in a Central Road crosswalk at Weller Lane. Since then, her husband launched a campaign focusing on crosswalk safety and design.

Last year, village staff participated in two safety engineering evaluations of the Central Road corridor from Arthur Avenue to Rand Road.

  1. One study was initiated by the village. It included an in-depth pedestrian safety analysis of the corridor by outside firm the Ciorba Group.
  2. The second study was a “Road Safety Review” of Central Road. The study was conducted by the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They analyzed roadway safety with an emphasis on pedestrian crossings.

[Read more…]

Uber Self-Driving Cars

self-driving cars

On February 2015, Uber announced its release of automatic cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The self-driving cars had 2 cameras, seven lasers, GPS, and a radar. When they first introduced theself-driving technology, a safety driver could take control of the vehicle if anything went wrong.

Pittsburg mayor Bill Peduto welcomed Uber and stated that Pittsburgh would become “ a 21st-century laboratory for technology.” Uber took this opportunity to test in Pittsburgh. They built a fake city called Almono to test the cars in before releasingthem in the real city. The experiments didn’t last very long. The mayor thought the Uber rides would not cost rider, but Uber charged its riders the usual amount. Therefore, he feared Uber self-driving cars also took away jobs.

Then in March 2017, a Uber self-driving car crashed in Tempe, Arizona. They suspended testing the automated cars.

Recently in March 2018, Uber re-released their self-driving cars back onto the streets. But then it struck a pedestrian walking outside of a crosswalk at night. Unfortunately, the pedestrian died due to her injuries. At the time of the accident, the car was in automatic mode.The human operator in the driver’s seat did not take control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Once again, Uber self-driving cars suspended testing in Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

[Read more…]

Children Pedestrians: Teach Your Kids How to Walk Safely

The daughter of Broadway actress Ruthie Ann Miles’ 4-year-old daughter Abigail Blumenstein died when a driver allegedly suffered a medical condition, lost control of her car and sped through a crowded crosswalk. Tragically, the family followed all of the safety rules that one takes when they walk on a crowded crosswalk.

However, although some tragic events occur, you need to teach your children how to safely walk so minimize any potential accidents. In 2015, one in every five children under the age of 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

How to Walk Safely

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends these seven safety tips for children pedestrians:

• Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking around until safely across.
• Walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
• Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
• Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult.
• Encourage kids to stay alert for cars that are turning or backing up.
• Teach kids not to run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
• If kids are walking when it’s dark out, teach them to be especially alert and make sure they are visible to drivers. Have them wear light- or brightly-colored clothing and reflective gear.

Eliminating Distractions for Children Pedestrians

Distracted driving continues to be a major issue for driver. However, distracted walking can also lead to accidents. On average, cars hit 44 kids per day while they walk. And many of these kids have headphones on. Teach your kids to put the phones down as they cross the street. Additionally, if they want to listen to music as they walk, make sure they have a volume setting that allows them to hear the sounds of the roads. Ideally, they will listen to only the sounds of the birds as they walk instead of anything that will distract them.

But most likely, act like the pedestrian you want them to be. If you walk, leave your phone at home. Set the example for your children pedestrians. As you drive, do not use your cell phone or any other distracting device.

It will keep your safe as you travel. But it also will provide your kids with the role model for their own safety.

If you or a loved one has been injured and need help after an accident occurred while you walked, 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.

Wrongful Death Suits after a Fatal Motorcycle Accident

fatal motorcycle accident

After you have lost a loved one who was killed in a motorcycle accident, you may feel lost. You may not know what to do next. Every day, many motorcyclists and motorists share the same roads around the greater Chicago area with thousands of drivers. Many responsible people abide by local and state laws to ensure public safety on the road.  However, fatal accidents do occur. For example, on July 1, 2018, Lonie Krzywda, 57, of Des Plaines, was involved in the crash near Route 53 and Thorndale Avenue. She was taken to Lutheran General Hospital where she died from complications from injuries sustained in the crash.

During the summer months, many young and older adults residing in the greater Chicago area proudly ride their motorcycles in the roads around the city. However, many motorists driving cars and trucks apparently do not respect motorcyclists on the roads. Although motorcyclists have many safety tips and their own licensing, fatal accidents do occur often.

In many cases, a fatal motorcycle accident results from the negligence of another motorist. Although a fact based determination, if negligence played a role in the fatal motorcycle accident, you may have a civil action against the driver. These accidents can involve a car or a truck. Unfortunately, some motorcyclists, like Ms. Krzywda, have lost their lives in accidents due to an accident with a car.

Types of Compensation for Wrongful Death

The plaintiffs in motorcycle accident wrongful death claims can obtain compensation for:

  • Medical expenses that accumulated prior to death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of support
  • Benefit Loss
  • Other monetary losses suffered as a result of the victim’s wrongful death
  • Non-monetary damages, including loss of companionship and affection

How to Find an Attorney After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident

Filing a lawsuit requires the assistance of a competent wrongful death suit attorney who specializes in:

  • Handling many complex cases in the Chicago area.
  • Helping you make sense of the untimely death of your loved one.
  • Explaining all of your options in order to receive compensation.
  • Mounting the strongest case possible on your behalf.
  • Bringing justice to the person who caused the tragic loss due to his or her misconduct or negligence.
  • Assisting you in receiving monetary damages to which you are entitled.

Consult with an experienced attorney who understands the laws pertaining to your case: the fatal motorcycle accident involving your loved one or friend.

If you or a loved one has been injured and need help with an insurance claim, 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.

New Chicago Party Bus Safety Measures

Unlike the school buses that you may remember, many people have begun enjoying the benefits of a party bus. If you’re heading to Six Flags or a Cubs game, you and your family or friends can rent a vehicle that will bring you there with all of the accommodations you could dream of. Many of these vehicles have large televisions with stereo systems. Modern interiors that can include fun light systems and provide you will fully stocked bars. And of course, you get the benefit of a chauffeur.

However, Chicago has doubled down on plans to increase enforcement of these popular vehicles. Recent incidents have caused the city and potentially the State of Illinois to consider more strict regulations. For example, a man on a chartered coach bus shot and killed three fellow passengers with a rifle while the bus was traveling in Rockford.

[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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