There are stringent federal regulations in the U.S. aimed to protect people from defective manufacturing, design or performance of cars to avoid accidents. Despite this, defective vehicles injure and kill thousands of people every year, and recalls are only applied once many people have already been injured or killed in accidents — there were 30,000 deaths in 2009.
According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who governs vehicle safety, recalls have been issued for more than 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires and 66 million items of vehicle equipment since 1966.
A safety recall occurs when there is a defect in the performance, construction, component or material of a motor vehicle or its equipment and this defect poses a risk once driven. Some defects that are considered safety-related include:
- Steering wheels that stop responding
- Fuel system causing fuel leakage
- Accelerator controls that don’t work
- Broken wheels that cause a loss of control of the vehicle
- Air bags system that deploy when not needed
- Seatbacks that fail while using normally
- Many others
Car manufacturing defects include any component of the automobile; common defects include brakes, tires, steering components, windshields, door latches and seatbelts. Automotive design defects include seatbelts, roofs, tires, and fuel systems.
If you are in an accident due to a vehicle defect or safety recall that was not addressed properly, the consequences can be devastating. In Chicago, wrongful death claims, where a death occurs due to the actions of a negligent party, such as the car manufacturer, can be made on behalf of the victim’s family for compensation for both monetary losses, including expenses due to the accident and also loss for the deceased’s income, as well as compensation for any pain and suffering.
“After an accident, you will need to find out if the cause of your accident was a defective automobile part or design,” said Attorney Glen Lerner. “We have the resources to help you recover for your property as well as emotional and financial damages.”
Car accidents might be reduced or even vanish completely if car manufacturers can use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to manufacture autonomous cars. Some herald self-driving cars as the next revolution in driving safety.
Many wonder what the AI/self-driving car’s impact will be in Chicago. Some researchers explain that the effect of self-driving cars on reducing traffic accidents is tough to forecast due to insubstantial data and testing.
Traffic issues unique to Chicago include a large number of pedestrians, confusion in navigating highways and constant gridlock on city streets. A 2014 article in the Chicago Tribune notes that traffic accidents throughout Illinois had increased to 800 per day.
Google and Tesla insist that self-driving cars have the potential to greatly reduce car accidents. Data supplied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 90% of car accidents involve human choice. AI can be used in cars so that drivers can make better and/or faster decisions while avoiding human errors such as texting or drunk driving.
Concerns have been express by many about fear of loss of control and allowing robots to supervise our driving. Critics question if AI can make ethical decisions involving complex situations with cars, obstacles and pedestrians.
Functions have been gradually automated in cars for the past decade to assist drivers with navigation. For example, many vehicles now come with sensors and videos that shows a driver their blind spots. Advanced technology uses vibration or sound to alert drivers if their car swerves into another lane without using their turn signal.
Attorney Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys noted, “While there are undisputed advantages to having AI in cars, the federal government needs to promulgate autonomous car regulation. Current governing statutes and regulations were developed before the technology was even a concept. It will be interesting to see how these policies develop and how much human intervention may still be required.”
There has been much written and studied regarding texting and driving. There is no debate when it comes to discussing how deadly the behavior can be. States all across the country, including here in Illinois, have enacted laws prohibiting drivers from texting while they are behind the wheel.
However, not only has the country experienced a consistent increase in the number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by texting drivers, there has also been a sharp increase in the number of pedestrians who have been killed or injured in traffic accidents that safety advocates say are a result of pedestrian negligence, caused by people who are out texting and walking.
For better or worse, smart phones have become an intracule part of many people’s lives. Drive down any busy street and you will likely see many people walking, looking down at their cell phones, and wearing earbuds. There is even a word for these distracted pedestrians – pedestrian.
But just like the danger texting and driving poses to the driver and others around him or her, texting and walking also causes a dangerous situation, especially for the pedestrian who is doing it.
Multiple studies have shown that distracted pedestrians often cross streets unsafely and one study even found that a pedestrian takes approximately two seconds longer to cross a street than a fully engaged pedestrian.
Although there is much discussion regarding the duty of care drivers have to pedestrians, those pedestrians also have a duty of care to other pedestrians and motorists.
If a person who is texting and walking becomes so distracted they illegally walk in front of a moving vehicle, a court could determine that the pedestrian was at fault for the accident.
At the very least, the court could determine that the pedestrian was partly to blame and therefore, whatever damages are to be awarded for any sustained injuries, will be reduced under the comparative negligence rule.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian or other type of motor vehicle accident, contact a skilled Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss what legal options you may have. Glen Lerner can help you through this process and ensure you understand your rights if you have been involved in an accident.
Under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/12‐21.6, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. According to the statute, an adult can be charged with breaking the law if they leave a child who is six years old or younger unattended in the vehicle for more than 10 minutes. So, what happens if you see a young child or children who are alone in a vehicle and in possible danger. When can you break into a car to save a child? According to national statistics, there are approximately 37 children who die every year in this country from heat stroke because they were left alone in a vehicle.
However, there have already been 29 young victims already in 2017, and July was the deadliest month in more than a decade, claiming the lives of 11 children, ranging in ages from seven weeks to three years of age. The internal temperature of a parked vehicle can soar to 120 to 130 degrees, even if the temperature outside is lower. Our bodies begin to shut down at 104 degrees and once the temperature hits 107 degrees, death occurs. If you do see a child who is has been left in a vehicle, immediately call 911 and check to see if any of the vehicle doors are unlocked. If there is, then open all the doors of the vehicle in order to cool it off.
If the child is in distress, then take them out of the vehicle and into shade. Make sure to keep the 911 operator informed of everything you are doing. If the doors are locked and the child is in distress, let the operator know you are going to break a window to remove the child. Pick a window that is the farthest away from where the child is.
Using a hard object – rock, tire iron, etc., pick a point at the window that is above the door lock. It may take multiple blows to the glass before it finally breaks. Once you are able to get to the lock, wrap your hand and arm in clothing to protect it from the broken glass and reach in to open the door and rescue the child. There are circumstances, such as this one, in which the Illinois Good Samaritan law should protect you from any criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit for breaking into the vehicle.
Anyone who has to commute into the city every day understands the frustration of dealing with rush hour traffic. In fact, according to one national study, a 12-mile stretch of the Kennedy Expressway has been identified as the worst location in the country for bottleneck traffic situations. So, for those commuters who deal with traffic headaches every day, what are some rush hour safety tips to help decrease the risk of a car crash?
When you know you are driving to a destination that will involve bumper to bumper traffic congestion, one of the best things you can do for yourself is allow enough time to get there. If it normally takes an hour for you to get to your destination, but traffic extends that time by another 30 to 60 minutes, then make sure to give yourself that wiggle room and leave your home earlier. Traffic congestion is frustrating enough, but knowing you are going to be late compounds that frustration and can actually contribute to your risk of a crash because you may not be as focused on the road around you as you should be.
Another good safety tip is to make sure you leave enough space – at least one car length – between your vehicle and the one in front of you. It is inevitable in rush hour traffic that just when you think traffic is beginning to move, something will cause it to come to a sudden stop again. If you are following too close behind, you may not be able to stop in time and end up slamming into the vehicle in front of you.
It is also critical for safety to not lane jump. Many drivers practice this unsafe driving behavior because they think that by going from lane to lane, they will get through the traffic jam quicker. However, this usually does not work and the only thing it really accomplishes is causing more traffic accidents.