Category Archives: Traffic Safety
Thursday the Illinois Tollway announced speed limit increases for a handful of segments on its system including the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80), the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) and the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355).
But traffic safety proponents are saying the proposed speed limit increases are being set at unsafely low levels.
According to the Tollway, increases will affect just 62% of Tollway system based on recommendations from Tollway traffic engineers and traffic studies commissioned by the agency.
The increases come in the wake of state legislation, and subsequent clarifying legislation that increased speed limits on all Illinois expressways to 70 mph on January 1st.
It started with a honking horn.
Stopped at the stop sign on a one-way street at Irving Park Road Saturday morning, the impatient female driver behind me was in a hurry to get somewhere.
Unfortunately, Saturday morning traffic was brisk in both directions, so she was going to have to wait until there was a break in traffic before I was going to try to cross the busy four lane street. Perhaps she felt I should be a jerk and pull onto the street and block a lane or two of oncoming traffic while waiting for the other side of the street to be clear enough to cross. But that wasn’t going to happen.
Finally, after a few minutes there was a break in the traffic and I began pulling across Irving.
But my impatient friend behind me also saw the opening and instead of waiting for me, the driver with the right of way, to go first, she lurched into the left lane and accelerated along side me. And then instead of turning left or going straight, the driver turned right in front of our vehicle, cutting us off in her hurry to get around my car.
Unfortunately, our vehicles lightly scraped.
Damn. My son and I were going to be late to his music class.
50 killed and 300 injured in 198 crashes.
That’s the numbers for wrong-way crashes in Illinois between 2005-2012 according to a report by NBC 5.
Not surprisingly, most of these wrong-way crashes involve intoxicated motorists driving home during early morning hours. The vast majority of these crashes occur on expressways within the Chicago metro area.
The Chicago Tribune breaks down Illinois crash statistics for 2013 in a recent story and finds that vehicle crashes and fatalities were both up last year.
Traffic experts are theorizing crashes are up because people are driving more. There’s also concern the low price of gas may increase average miles driven and thus increase crashes and traffic deaths in 2015.
There are some interesting takeaways the Tribune points out from the statistics.
Here’s the breakdown:
The vote wasn’t even close.
100 Illinois State Representatives voted to override Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill to raise the speed limit to 70 mph on Illinois Tollways Wednesday in Springfield. Only 11 voted against the override, with one abstention.
The Illinois Senate had completed its part of the override on November 21st, with a similarly overwhelming vote of 44-5-1.
Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the bill’s sponsor, along with advocates to raise the speed limit to 70, have contended the law will reduce crashes and improve safety as it brings the posted speed limit in line with the speed at which motorists are already driving on the tollways. They cite research and studies which show the differential in speeds between those drivers obeying the speed limit and others driving at higher speeds which leads to more serious crashes.
Traffic studies done by the Illinois Tollway Authority and outside groups have found speeds on most segments of that roadway are averaging around 70 mph.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), has been trying to raise the speed limit on Illinois expressways for the past two years with some success.
“The Governor is fond of saying ‘Let the will of the people be the law of the land,’ yet he was quick to veto legislation that was sponsored by 36 Senators representing Chicago, suburban and downstate areas of Illinois,” Oberweis said Thursday. “And today, a majority of my colleagues in the Senate joined me in overriding the Governor’s veto.”
A bill signed by Quinn in 2013 was supposed to increase the speed limit on all expressways–including the tollway and Chicago area expressways–at least according to Oberweis who authored the bill.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) are warning motorists of stepped up efforts by state and local law enforcement to catch impaired drivers this holiday weekend.
“Halloween is a fun holiday to celebrate, but poor decisions too often lead to real tragedy on Illinois roads,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren. “This Halloween, law enforcement will be on the lookout for drunk and unbuckled drivers to help keep the fun from turning into a deadly night.”
With traffic fatalities across the state down significantly compared to last year at this time, Halloween marks the start of a two month, end of the year effort to keep traffic deaths as low as possible.
IDOT says four of 19 motor vehicle related fatalities last year involved a driver who had consumed alcohol.
Drink responsibly, designate a driver and buckle up is the advice IDOT and the state police are giving motorists.
And not because of all the stomach aches that occur from consuming an overabundance of candy.
No, there are multiple studies that indicate more children are hit by vehicles on October 31st than any other 24 hour period of the year.
So, here are a few tips when you’re out driving on Halloween to make sure everyone gets home safe and sound Wednesday evening.
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.
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.”
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.”