Category Archives: Traffic Safety

New Radar Gun Detects Drivers Texting Behind The Wheel

Photo credit: HansFreeInfo.com

Photo credit: HansFreeInfo.com

Texting on a cellphone while driving is against the law in Illinois.

As unsafe as that practice is, many drivers still do it.

However, it’s very hard for law enforcement to catch motorists who are texting behind the wheel.

But that might be changing.

That’s because a Virgina-based company named ComSonics is getting ready to release a radar gun like device that can detect when drivers are texting according to Auto Evolution.

ComSonics says the frequencies emitted when a phone is sending a text message have a different signature than when a phone is being used to download data or make a call.

The manufacturer utilized the same technology used by cable television technicians to detect breaks in cables in this new product.

While the product is not on the market yet, Comsonics says it should be available soon.

Texting while behind the wheel is banned in 31 one states including Illinois.

Here’s the full story, “A Radar Gun that Catches Driver Texting Is in Development.”

Group: Drivers Not Stopping For Pedestrians At Crosswalks

A sign in Evanston reminds drivers to stop when pedestrians are present.

A sign in Evanston reminds drivers to stop when pedestrians are present.

Despite a state law that’s been on the books for four years, most Chicago drivers are not stopping at crosswalks when pedestrians are crossing street according to the Active Transportation Alliance.

The group conducted a recent survey that it says shows only 18% of motorists stop to allow a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk to walk across the street. The survey claims that percentage drops dramatically at unmarked crosswalks plunging to just 5% of the time. The law requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians crossing the street within a crosswalk whether marked or not.

“Many people are unaware of the law and believe that cars only have to stop for pedestrians when there is a ‘stop for pedestrians’ sign at the crosswalk, and these signs led to much higher compliance in our survey,” said Burke. “But we aren’t going to get ‘must stop’ signs at every crosswalk, so it’s important that the public learn about this law.”

The survey conducted by Active Trans was made up of 208 attempts to cross the street at 52 locations within the city and nearby suburban towns.

The group’s research found that drivers complied with the law at painted crosswalks with enhanced safety features like “Stop For Pedestrian” signs, brick, stone or raised crosswalks or even flashing lights.

Active Trans says 90 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the metro Chicago area in 2012.

“Stepping into a crosswalk in Chicago is an invitation to be run over,” said Bob Gallo, state director of AARP Illinois which worked with Active Trans in 2009 to pass the Must Stop for Pedestrians Law. “Unfortunately, this is especially true for older residents who are more likely to be injured or killed than pedestrians of all other ages.”

In their effort to have more motorists complying with the law and stopping at crosswalks, the group is pushing statewide education programs akin to the “Click it or Ticket” campaign using billboards, public service announcements and ads to get the word out.

In addition, Active Trans wants more enforcement similar to what the Chicago Police Department does from time to time in their crosswalk enforcement initiatives where they ticket drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians.

Burke admits that most drivers are just ignorant of the law and believes most motorists would obey it if they were aware the law existed. He thinks as more drivers start stopping for pedestrians, things will eventually reach a critical mass where drivers will almost always stop at crosswalks.

“Driving behavior is contagious,” said Burke from Active Trans. “Once a significant percentage of motorists begin to stop for pedestrians, you’ll see it catch on and become the norm like it is in other states.”

IDOT Uses Zombie Video Series To Promote Safe Driving

What’s scarier than a bunch of flesh eating zombies trying to make a meal of you?

The Illinois Department of Transportation says it’s not wearing your seat belt.

Electric Traffic Signal Celebrates 100th Anniversary

An advertisement for an early two-color traffic signal.

An advertisement for an early two-color traffic signal.

Green means go. Red means stop.

That universal truth recognized by every motorist around the world celebrated its 100th birthday this week.

According to History.com, the very first traffic signal was installed at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio August 5th, 1914.

While African-American inventor Garrett Morgan is generally credited with inventing the modern three position traffic signal, it was a design patented by James Hoge which was first used by Cleveland 100 years ago.

Hoge’s design had just two lights–green and red–no yellow. Hoge’s invention consisted of a red and green lights mounted on poles at each corner of the intersection. The lights were wired to a booth, which allowed a police officer to control the flow of traffic from inside.

National Stop On Red Week Starts Sunday, But Not In Chicago

Stop.On_.Red_.Week_.Web_.Button.2014Red means stop.

That’s the main message for motorists to remember during National Stop on Red Week which kicks off Sunday, August 3rd and runs through Saturday, August 9th.

The annual event spends the first week in August every year reminding drivers of the importance of stopping at traffic lights when the light is red and the dangers in ignoring red lights.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over 8.700 people were killed in the last decade in intersection-related accidents and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) red light running is one of the leading causes of urban crashes.

Evanston Alderman Proposes Licensing Bicycles

Share the Road License Plate

Misbehaving bicycle riders have raised the ire of one Evanston lawmaker.

According to Evanston Now
, Alderman Delores Holmes believes bike riders should have license tags similar to license plates motor vehicles must display.

She feels there’s no way to hold bikers responsible for breaking the law unless there is a way to identify and track them if they ride on a sidewalk or blow through a stop light or stop sign, for example.

Another alderman, an avid bike rider, says other bikers would be “outraged” at the idea and he plans on opposing Holmes’ proposal.

Chicago Alderman Leslie Hairston floated a similar idea for a bike tax several months ago, but was shot down by an outpouring loud detractors.

Read the full story from Evanston Now, “Alderman wants mandatory licensing for bikes.”

Thanks to Mo Torrist for the tip on the story.

Residents Angered By Bike Lane Proposal For Milwaukee Avenue

Milwaukee Avenue bike lanes graphic

A graphic shows one proposal which would dramatically reduce the number of parking spaces along Milwaukee Avenue. Photo credit: Heather Cherone/DNA Info.

Residents of Jefferson Park and Gladstone Park do not want protected bike lanes in their neighborhood.

Several hundred angry residents showed up at a meeting on Wednesday to hear a presentation that includes two plans which would reduce traffic on a two-mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Elston and Lawrence from four lanes to just two and add protected bike lanes according to DNA Info.

“Nobody wants this,” said one vocal resident. “It is being rammed down our throats.”

“We hate it,” said another.

Drivers Face Heightened Enforcement For 4th of July Holiday

american-flag-2aDrive safely this weekend motorists–law enforcement will be out in force this 4th of July holiday weekend.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police announced heightened enforcement through Sunday, July 6th with over 320 local law enforcement agencies joining state troopers in targeting drunk drivers and those not wearing seatbelts.

“The upcoming Fourth of July holiday means law enforcement statewide will be out on the roads enforcing laws to avoid tragic outcomes. To boost safety around the holiday weekend, the Illinois State Police enforcement efforts will focus on the Fatal Four – Speeding, Seatbelts, Distracted Driving and DUI,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.

Truck Driver Takes Illinois State Trooper To Task For Unsafe Driving

A truck driver recently captured video of getting pulled over by an Illinois State Trooper for honking his horn at the law enforcement officer.

The truck driver takes the trooper to task explaining he honked because the trooper was speeding on a wet road while talking on a cell phone up to his ear.

The trooper, his feelings hurt, says he’s going to ticket him for “improper use of a horn.”

Illinois Traffic Fatalities Down Due To 70 MPH Speed Limit?

70 MPH signThe good news is traffic fatalities on Illinois roads are down according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In fact, there have been only 341 fatalities so far this year compared to this time last year–74 less.

The first half of this year is coincidentally the first six months the speed limit has been raised in some places from 65 to 70 mph.

A reporter for Springfield’s NPR radio station WUIS tries to link these two facts, implying the higher speed limit is helping reduce fatalities. Critics of the higher speed limit claimed it would increase traffic deaths.