Car Accidents

Eliminating Car and Ped Traffic Accidents

What do you call an accident where a car strikes a pedestrian? Is it a car accident or a pedestrian accident. When urban planners and mayors set out to eliminate traffic deaths, who do they target?

First they examined the statistics and found that the number of traffic fatalities caused by car accidents attributable to speeding was 33,808 in 2013. Latest data available in the United States show pedestrian fatalities caused by a car accident at 4,473. The highest percentage of pedestrian fatalities occurred in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston and LosAngeles.
90 percent of all pedestrians killed were in a single car accident and 19% are killed by hit and run drivers. 73% of car accidents causing the death of a pedestrian were in urban areas with 70% of fatalities occurring at non-intersections.
More than a third (37%) of pedestrian killed, and 1 in 8 (13%) of the drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 g/dl or higher, the illegal limit in every State.

Car accidents resulting in the death of a pedestrian continue to increase by a solid 3% per year. So what were the conclusions reached?

The obvious: pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and in addition, often used cell phones and ear phones while walking and driving!

Simply put, there is no one target in the quest to prevent car accidents and pedestrian fatalities. Numerous urban proposals and projects now involve shared responsibilities among drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, traffic enforcers and street designers, all of whom must change behaviors and attitudes.

Slowing traffic may be the most immediately effective measure for pedestrian and safety as well as in the prevention of all car accidents. When struck by a vehicle going 40 miles an hour, pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of dying and a higher chance of sustaining chance of sustaining a serious injury such as brain trauma. This compares with a 45 percent chance when struck at 30 miles per hour. Every 5 mph increment makes a huge difference in the pedestrian’s or driver’s ability to avoid the accident, serious injury or fatality.

Drivers tend to go as fast as conditions allow. There are many design strategies, called “traffic calming measures”, that force drivers to slow down. These measures are self-regulatory and may deter drivers off roads heavily used by pedestrians. For example, speed bumps, textured pavement and raised crosswalks remind a driver of his speed and cause him to slow.
Roundabouts are equally effective but often cause confusion for all parties.

I personally love the signs that flash the speeds of passing cars. I’ve never seen it fail to cause everyone to hit the brakes!

The Federal Highway Administration lists many measures that, in additions to slowing traffic, can render pedestrians and cyclist more visible and street crossings safer. The pedestrian bridge is great but not always feasible but an alternative on a wide street could be the installation of mid-crossing pedestrian islands.

The unavoidable take-away is that drivers, pedestrians and cyclists all share responsibility for safety. Peds and cycists can wear reflective gear, Drivers and cyclists can slow down, no one should drive, walk or cycle distracted, all must keep vigilant, follow traffic laws and signals-they serve to keep everyone in their own lane. Don’t depend on the other guy to follow the rules-you may have the right of way but it’s no fun to explain that to a police office from your hospital bed. It is always better to stay safe than to call Grazian and Volpe for assistance in obtaining compensation for your injuries. But if you can’t stay safe stay with Chicago’s most trusted and experienced personal injury lawyers for over 30 years.

Women Face More Injury in Car Accidents

When litigating car accident lawsuits, we have always found that women seem to consistently sustain more serious injuries than males. Predominantly, back and brain injuries. We began to wonder if this was just the experience of Grazian and Volpe or if it was a statistical fact.

We began to do some research and came upon a study done by the University of Virginia in October of 2011. Interested readers can access the full report at
ajph.aphapublications.org/.

Researchers reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. Compared with male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.

The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.

Dipan Bose, lead author of the study cautions female drivers “ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”

We have not seen any accommodations made by car manufacturers so it seems incumbent upon female drivers to take it upon themselves to provide for a more secure interior driving environment by assuring their necks and backs are secure and well-supported and their seat belts fit firmly.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid an accident and a lawyer. But if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s experienced car accident attorneys for over 30 years.

Cyclists: One Way Not to Get Hit

Grazian and Volpe have litigated thousands of car and bike accidents over the last 30 years. Some are unavoidable but we are constantly reminded how many accidents are totally preventable.

A growing area of our practice involves cyclists. Chicago strives to be a bicycle friendly city and we applaud the efforts. Cycling is healthy and good for the environment. However, the city has a long way to go before it is “bicycle friendly.” Drivers and cyclists are the main culprits in any bicycle/car accident. Most times it is the result of ignorance of proper protocol.

Bicycle accidents are often serious and sometimes fatal; not to the driver but always to the cyclist. Cyclists can scream and swear at bad drivers but cars are huge metal shells traveling at high speeds. Impact with a bicycle is of little consequence (physically) to the driver or passenger in a car. Our largest settlements are always for the cyclist because cyclists are unprotected and their injuries can be horrific. Many a cyclist have been grateful for a large settlement but all wish their accident never happened.

A proper fitting helmet, back and front lights and adherence to bicycle law is a given. After the basics a cyclist must be aware of the most vulnerable cycling situations.

The most common accident we have seen in the last year is what I refer to as the “Right Hook”. This involves a car passing you on your left and then making a right turn directly in front of you or right into you. Drivers think they can pass a slower bicycle and underestimate the speed at which a cyclist is traveling. This is a hard collision to avoid because the cyclist does not see the driver until it is too late. There is no escape maneuver available in this situation. There are three rules for avoiding the right hook:

1) Don’t ride on the sidewalk! You are invisible to a driver when you are on the sidewalk and enter the street to cross.
2) As you approach the intersection, take the middle position in the lane. If the street is narrow-definitely take the whole lane. Move to the right as you cross the intersection.
3) Add a mirror to your bike or helmet. Every cyclist knows that looking over your left shoulder causes the bike to serve dangerously to the left. A mirror allows you to see cars on your left without this risk.
4) Never pass a slow moving car on the right. Move to the left and make visual contact with the driver.
5) Watch for passengers that may be exiting on the right. A slowing car may indicate a driver who is about to unload a passenger.

ALWAYS RIDE AS IF YOU ARE INVISIBLE!

Can Technology Prevent Distracted Teen Driving?

Every human being is is not living under a rock is now aware of the dangers of distracted driving. IN 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver-many more than those killed by drunk drivers. In 2014 we are setting the course for close to the half million mark for injuries caused by distracted driving and an increase in wrongful deaths.

Despite the overwhelming data, most people surveyed admit it is difficult to avoid using a smartphone while driving and judging from our own road survey, it is difficult to find any driver in rush hour traffic whose face is not lit by the light of a smartphone.

So what technology hath wrought be solved by technology itself? A myriad of companies have developed products that prohibit or limit a driver’s ability to use a phone while driving, marketing their products to parent’s desperate to keep their teens safe on the road. But is the answer? Many feel that this is akin to keeping your child in a bubble at the expense of teaching them survival skills in the outside world. In other words, is technology ignoring the underlying problem?

Bryan Reimer, Ph.D.,research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT has found that people prone to texting while driving fall into a larger category: high risk drivers. He has found that if you take away their phones they will find a substitute, whether it be changing radio stations, rummaging in their bags or checking their appearance in the mirror.

To address these drivers lies with feedback-oriented tools that examine overall driving performance, which includes cell phone use but other behaviors as well. He finds that products such as the DriveCam, an in car camera and related technology that alert drivers when they engage in hazardous behavior can provide parents with weekly data, including a driving score and visual clip of any risky behavior.

Grazian and Volpe applauds any efforts to increase road safety and prevent motor vehicle injuries and fatalities. This is a rich subject with a number of viewpoints as to solution. We will be exploring these in posts to come. Please stay tuned!

Distracted Teen Driving May Be Parent’s Fault

It is now common knowledge that driving while texting or driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents. There is not a parent of driving age teens who has not warned their teen to avoid texting or talking on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, there seems to be many parents not following their own advice and that may be a good reason why the use of cellphone devices during driving remains on the rise.

Here’s another reason parent’s have to be guilty- a recent survey indicates that distracted teen driving may be partly Mom or Dad’s fault! Researchers at Parallel Consulting and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that over half of the teens gabbing on cellphones while driving are on the line with a parent. The surveyed teens said that parents get mad if they don’t pick up their calls and that their parents also drive while using the phone.

The attorneys at Grazian and Volpe have found our motor vehicle collision and accident caseload growing each year. We have also found that most car and truck accidents involve a party who was operating a cell phone and distracted from effectively observing traffic. Most of these cases involve adults traveling alone or sadly, with children. It was no surprise to read the results of this survey.

We suggest that parents refrain, as an example from using a cellphone when driving, period, but most importantly in the presence of children. Secondly, parents should also set rules for answering the phone while driving. Tell teens that it is appropriate and acceptable to respond to a call from their parents after they have reached their destination. If a long car trip is in progress, teens should be told to wait until a rest stop. Optimally, a teen should text a parent before setting upon a car trip to tell the parent they will be unreachable for a period of time. I tell my girls to let me know when they are starting on their way and the expected ETA. I try not to panic is they don’t call exactly on time and to give a bit of space. Of course, every parent knows that will not be always effective. However, setting an example and setting some rules will go a long way to keeping your child safe on the road.

2 school bus accidents take place in Chicago area

The school year has only just started in the Chicago area, but there have already been several reports of dangerous school bus incidents.

Last Friday, a school bus driver was arrested and charged with driving drunk while on duty in West Chicago. Also last week, on Tuesday, two school buses were involved in a crash in Antioch, and on Saturday, at least eight children were injured when a school bus got into an accident on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

It is very fortunate that none of these bus accidents resulted in serious injuries.

In the most recent incident in Chicago, a school bus that was southbound on Lake Shore Drive struck a vehicle that was stopped in traffic. That vehicle then struck the car that was in front of it, and a police car rear-ended the school bus. Eight children were hospitalized with minor injuries as a result of the crash.

In the West Chicago incident, a drunk school bus driver was taken off the roads thanks to a sharp school employee. The employee was talking with the bus driver at the school during a drop-off, and she thought she smelled alcohol on the driver. Police were notified and the bus driver was arrested.

In the Antioch crash, school officials did not perform so well. Two grade school buses collided with each other, but the school did not call police or immediately notify parents. Instead, another bus was dispatched to pick up the students, and parents were later sent an e-mail about the crash.

School officials said that they did not call police right away because the accident was minor and no children reported injuries to the driver. Antioch’s fire chief has said the district should have handled the bus accident better.

School bus drivers are not qualified to assess students for injuries, and this is one reason fire and rescue should be called. Some parents reportedly may have taken students to hospitals for medical care after they arrived home.

When children are injured in school bus accidents, and when adults are injured in bus accidents, negligent bus drivers or bus companies may be held responsible for medical expenses and other costs. Bus drivers and bus companies are expected to take certain measures to protect their passengers, and when they fail to do so they should be held accountable.

Sources: 5 NBC Chicago, “8 Kids Injured in School Bus Crash,” Sept. 14, 2013
Wheaton Patch, “West Chicago School Bus Driver Charged With Aggravated DUI While on Duty,” Charles Menchaca, Sept. 14, 2013
CBS Chicago, “Students On Board In 2-Bus Accident in Antioch,” Sept. 11, 2013

‘Silver’ drivers need a vehicle safety rating, says NHTSA

Many Chicago area families with teenage drivers in the household are familiar with the New Car Assessment Program. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration runs the five-star safety ratings program to provide vehicle safety performance ratings to consumers. While most Chicago families are very concerned about the safety of vehicles driven by teenagers, NHTSA thinks we should also be concerned about the cars that older family members are driving.

Older drivers and vehicle occupants are generally less able than younger people to withstand the force of a car accident. In fact, federal statistics show that older drivers face the highest rate of death in serious car accidents. As a result of this information, and the fact that America’s largest generation is reaching retirement age, NHTSA has proposed a new safety rating that would specifically assess vehicle safety as it pertains to older drivers.

NHTSA is currently calling it the “silver rating” and it would be designed to help older drivers select cars that they may be safer in. Inflatable seat belts as well as technology that helps avoid pedal misapplications – such as accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brake while parking – are two safety features that the agency believes are particularly beneficial for older drivers.

According to the AARP, by 2025 one-fifth of U.S. drivers will be at least 65, and of course it is important that cars are designed to keep occupants as safe as possible. However, AAA has suggested that NHTSA may be missing the mark, because most Americans do not want to be reminded that they are getting older – even if it is by a program meant to benefit them.

In addition to the silver rating, NHTSA is considering a family rating that would assess how well vehicles protect backseat passengers. Both of the new ratings would take several years to be implemented.

It is important that drivers and passengers, of any age, are as safe as possible on the roads here in Illinois. In the event that accidents and injuries do occur, victims may benefit from seeking legal counsel to learn about their rights.

Source: Washington Post, “NHTSA Proposes Older Driver, Family Vehicle Safety Ratings,” Suzanne Kane, April 9, 2013

Our personal injury law firm helps car accident victims in Chicago and the surrounding areas seek compensation for their injuries.

Why Young Children Run in Front of Cars

As warmer weather approaches, parents brace for the advent of outdoor play and the dangers associated with young children running in parks and neighborhoods located in areas surrounded by local streets. The increase in the number of car and pedestrian accidents involving children is an unwelcome and tragic feature of summers in Chicago.

The lawyers at Grazian and Volpe dread the inevitable and tragic calls we receive from parents when their child has darted out from between two cars or neglected to heed a street sign when engaged in a game or chasing a friend.

More than 13,000 children, ages 5 to 9 are struck and injured by cars while crossing the street in the U.S. every year according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. A recent study sought to determine why children are so vulnerable. Researchers at the University of Idaho compared traffic-detection skills in 35 adults ages 19 to 50 and 50 children ages 6 to 9.  Participants listened on headphones to 24 recordings of a car approaching at 5, 12 and 25 miles per hour, from both directions, and pressed a computer key when they detected the vehicle, identified its direction and thought it had arrived at their location.

The results were stunning. Adults detected the car significantly earlier than children, though 8 and 9 years old heard the car before 6 and 7 years. Adults detected the vehicle traveling at 5 miles per hour at a distance of about 48 feet compared with 3 feet for younger children and 41 feet for older children.

The accident lawyers at Grazian and Volpe hope this new study is informative in helping to prevent car accidents involving children. Adult drivers should be aware that children simply lack the perceptual skills to interpret important pedestrian safety cues and never assume that a child is aware of a presence of a moving car.

It is always better to stay safe and prevent accidents but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Drowsy Drivers Responsible for Fatal Car Accidents

A new study of driving behavior finds drowsy drivers responsible for 730 deadly motor vehicle accidents and an additional 30,000 crashes that were nonfatal.

Even being tired and sleep deprived without actually nodding off can be a serious problem on the road. Fatigue slows reaction times and can lead to poor judgment. Studies show that going without sleep for 20 to 21 hours and then getting behind the wheel is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of about .08%, which the legal limit in most states. In fact, going without sleep for 24 hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent which is higher than the legal limit in all states!

Studies show that people who fall asleep at the wheel may do it so quickly-and briefly-without registering the lapse. Warning signs included having trouble remembering the last few miles that you’ve driven, or missing an exit.

Many people who find themselves groggy while driving resort to blasting the radio or rolling down the window but those measures are largely shown to be ineffective. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help, but effectiveness depends largely on an individual’s physiology or tolerance to caffeine.

Experts advise finding a safe place to pull over and drift off for a few minutes. Alertness can be restored by a short nap and a cup of coffee keeping you and other drivers safe from your drowsy driving. Remember is is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years!

AT&T Chief Speaks Out on Texting at the Wheel

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been adamant in informing the public against the dangers of serious injury due to car accidents that occur when a driver is texting.  We are pleased to see that a prominent carrier is raising awareness on this issue and the message is personal and starting at the top.

Randall L. Stephenson, the chairman and chief executive of AT&T, spoke at a conference in New York to hundreds of major investors, including Fortune 500 executives. The topic was the state of the telecom businesses, but he began with a request on a different topic: Please don’t text and drive.

Mr. Stephenson said that a few years ago someone close to him caused an accident while texting. As he has become more vocal about texting and driving, he said people were coming up to him and writing him with their own stories of tragedy, including admissions that they caused accidents.

The smartphone “is a product we sell and it’s being used inappropriately.” For him, that means the company he runs has to get involved in a public awareness campaign. “we have got to drive behavior.”

While safety say that history shows that public service campaigns have had limited success on issues like drunken driving or seat belt use unless they are paired with strong laws and that is something Mr. Stephenson opposes.

David D. Teater, senior director of the National Safety Council, had a son killed by a driver talking on her phone. He states that he is pleased to see telecommunications companies no longer lobbying against laws aimed at curbing driver distraction caused by electronic devices.

“We’d love their support on the legislative side,” he said of AT&T’s position. “But the fact they’re are not opposing us is good.”

Currently 39 states ban testing while driving. Research shows that the activity sharply increases the risk of crash, even beyond the risk posed by someone with a .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit in many states. Yet researchers say that there is no indication drivers are less incline to text and drive, and there is some indication that the behavior is increasing.

Drivers need be aware of the dangers of mobile devices while driving and not ignore the dangers because this activity is not prohibited by legislation.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.