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According to a recent report titled “Dangerous by Design 2014,”the Chicago Metro area ranked as one of the safest of the major metropolitan areas in the nation for pedestrian traffic. The report released by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, compared the 51 largest metropolitan areas in the nation and ranked Chicago the 44th most dangerous (aka the 7th safest) metro area for pedestrians in the nation. The report classified the Orlando and St. Petersburg, Florida metro areas to be the country’s most dangerous.

According to an article on the report, one of the factors that may explain why the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area ranked so favorably on this list is the conscious effort made by community development professionals and urban planners throughout the area to make streets safer for pedestrians. Those in charge of reshaping communities in and around the Chicago metro area are making more streets into “complete streets” that include sidewalks and bicycle areas. They have also worked to make crosswalks shorter, more effective and closer together to reduce pedestrian accidents.

Lingering Dangers for Lake County Pedestrians

The Dangerous by Design report also indicates that even though the Chicago metro area ranked comparatively favorably, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to make Chicago streets safer for pedestrians. According to the report, 1,165 pedestrians in the Chicago metro area were killed from 2003 to 2012. This number represents a significant amount of preventable deaths that could have been reduced with more resources invested in making Chicago streets safer.

In addition to comparing metropolitan areas in pedestrian safety, the report also provided detailed information on the types of pedestrian deaths that occurred. This information can help community developers better understand situational factors that lead to pedestrian deaths so they can work at reducing or responding to these factors in the future. For example, the report revealed:

Dangerous Roadways: A major cause of many pedestrian deaths is the dangerous roadways themselves. The report showed the majority of accidents occurred on roadways that are dangerous by design. These roadways were designed for high-speed traffic and provided little sufficiently isolated walking or biking areas for pedestrians along these roads.

Vulnerable Demographic Populations: Older individuals, children and minorities make up a higher percentage of pedestrian deaths. One of the possible reasons for this statistics is simply that, according to the report, older adults regardless of race, African Americans and Hispanics identify neighborhood characteristics such as sidewalks as more important for achieving physical activity goals than do younger white individuals.

Causes of Pedestrian and Other Motor Vehicle Accidents in Lake County

Though Chicago community planners and policy makers are working to make streets safer, Lake County area residents are still vulnerable to another safety hazard: dangerous drivers. Nearly every day people in and around the Lake County area are severely injured or even killed by inattentive drivers. Some of the causes include: Intoxicated driving: Drivers under the influence of alcohol and prescription and nonprescription drugs are more likely than sober drivers to exhibit impaired judgment and reaction time that make them more likely than sober drivers to cause motor vehicle crashes.

Divided attention while driving: Driver participation in cell phone voice or even text conversations while driving can reduce driver reaction time and driver attention to the road and surroundings, making them more likely to cause an accident.

Driving with inhibited abilities: Commercial vehicle operators may be asked or forced to drive long distances with insufficient rest breaks. These practices could lead commercial drivers, who often operate especially heavy and dangerous vehicles, to become drowsy or unable to effectively focus while in control of their vehicles.

Illinois Driving Laws

Illinois DUI Laws

It is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Illinois. Under Illinois’ intoxicated driving law, a motorist is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol if his blood alcohol content registers as .08 percent or higher. Additionally, the driver may be convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol if the driver presents as being unable to safely operate a motor vehicle due to drug or alcohol use, such as during a failed sobriety test or if an amount of an unlawfully used controlled substance is found in the driver’s blood.

Violation of the Illinois DUI law may result in a fine of up to $1,000 for a first time offense, loss of certain driving privileges for up to one year, or even imprisonment. Statutory penalties increase if an individual’s blood alcohol level reaches .16 percent or more, if the individual is arrested while transporting a child, or if the individual has been convicted of a prior driving under the influence-related offense.

Illinois Distracted Driving Law

Under Illinois law it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless the driver operates the phone with use of hands-free technology such as a speakerphone, Bluetooth or a headset. It is also illegal to use a cell phone in particularly dangerous areas like a construction zone or school zone, or by a driver under 18 years old. In addition, Illinois recently enacted an anti-texting law, which makes it illegal for all drivers to send electronic messages (text messages) while driving in the state.

Illinois Commercial Vehicle Driving Law

Illinois legislators recognized that commercial vehicle operators must use a higher degree of care when operating commercial vehicles, in part because large commercial vehicles can be more dangerous to pedestrians or other motorists if mishandled. As such the Illinois Traffic Code sets more stringent laws for operating a commercial vehicle. In addition, Illinois law also places restrictions that make employers of commercial vehicle operators responsible for failing to adequately oversee their employees in certain respects.

Seeking Help as Victim of an Illinois Motor Vehicle Accident

If you or someone you know was harmed in a motor vehicle crash, experienced attorneys at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. can help. We have been representing auto accident victims, such as pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists for over 20 years. Don’t let insurance companies pressure you into taking an unfair settlement for your suffering. Contact our office using our online form or via telephone at 847-662-3303 to schedule an appointment with our experienced Lake County personal injury attorneys in one of our four Illinois offices today.

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