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In the last few years, the dangers of distracted driving have been highly publicized and resulted in a wave of new safety legislation intended to keep the roads safe. While distracted driving can involve any action that takes the driver's attention off of driving, including talking with passengers and eating and drinking, much legislation has focused on limiting the use of cell phones while behind the wheel.

According to one study, drivers are four times more likely to be involved in accidents serious enough to injure themselves when using a hand-held device such as a cell phone. Carnegie Mellon reports that drivers' brain activity associated with driving is reduced by 37 percent when using a cell phone while driving.

Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that more than 500 Illinois car accidents involved cell phone distraction in the first half of 2010, and this is with a law banning texting while driving. Because cell phones pose distractions to drivers beyond texting, new legislation has been introduced in Illinois to further limit drivers' use of cell phones.

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More and more people are taking to the streets of Illinois - to walk. And as more residents begin to enjoy the health benefits of walking, pedestrian safety is increasingly becoming a concern. In order to address these concerns, the state is doing more to prevent Illinois pedestrian accidents and ensure that pedestrians and cars can share the road safely.

Pedestrian Accidents in Illinois

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2010:

  • 5,174 pedestrians were injured in accidents with cars
  • 115 fatal pedestrian accidents occurred, and many of them involved alcohol
  • 10.4 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in rural areas, while the rest, 89.6 percent, occurred in metropolitan areas around the state
  • 17 percent of pedestrians killed in accidents with cars were 65 years of age and above, while seven percent were under 15 years old

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We've all been there: When we're young, we believe that we're invincible and the rules just don't apply to us. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking usually got us into a lot of trouble - and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this kind of thinking may contribute to teenagers refusing to use seat belts. In fact, these agencies report that teen drivers are the least likely to use seat belts when they're driving a car, as well as when they are the passenger of a car.

This trend is no different in Illinois, despite the fact that failing to wear a seat belt has been against the law for about 25 years. In order to strengthen the state's seat belt laws, Illinois will soon make it mandatory for the backseat passengers of a vehicle to also buckle up.

But the state's teens may need a little bit more convincing than a fine - which is currently $25, plus court fees and penalties, for drivers who are caught not wearing a seat belt.

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Amendments to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act in 2011 have implications for several aspects of the system that awards benefits for work-related injuries. These changes include new guidelines for determinations of permanent partial disability, limitations on recovery for hand injuries and reductions in the duration of wage loss differential awards.

One particularly important change is a new limit on a worker's choice of medical providers to assess a workplace injury or illness. Under the new law, employers and workers' compensation insurance providers will be able to provide a list of doctors available for the employee's first of two available choices under the existing "two doctor rule." If a worker declines to choose from that list, the first choice will effectively disappear.

One stated objective of the implementation of preferred provider organizations (PPOs) for workers' comp care is to lower the cost of awarding benefits by guiding injured employees toward providers who specialize in assessing work-related injury claims. The state Department of Insurance has yet to finalize provider network rules, but this new practice should be fully implemented by early next year.

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The Illinois Supreme Court ruled this spring that the presence of any trace amount of illegal drugs in a person's body is sufficient to charge and prosecute the crime as an aggravated DUI, even if the person was not impaired at the time of the accident.

The case that brought about the ruling arose from a motor vehicle accident in December of 2004. The defendant left a bar in Peoria. On his way home, while rounding a curve on a two-lane state highway, his car crossed the centerline and struck an oncoming car.

The accident killed the driver and the passenger of that car. The defendant was injured, and he was taken to a nearby hospital. Tests revealed that the defendant's blood contained no alcohol or controlled substances, but his urine contained methamphetamine and amphetamine. He was charged with one count of aggravated DUI.

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