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Central Illinois Law Blog

Americans encouraged to promote impaired driving awareness

While most people in Illinois and the rest of the U.S. know that impaired driving can be a factor in car accidents, they may not know how serious the problem is. Approximately 28 percent of traffic fatalities in 2016 were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers, and the death toll comes to more than 10,000 people. Furthermore, a 2012 survey revealed that 4.2 million adults in America had driven under the influence at least once within 30 days.

On average, there is one fatality every 50 minutes due to impaired driving in America. In an effort to raise awareness of impaired driving and to prevent it from occurring when possible, the White House released a proclamation designating December 2017 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

Study links Pokémon Go with increase in car crashes

Illinois residents probably remember when Pokémon Go was launched back in July 2016 and how it led to reports of gamers injuring themselves and others because they were so immersed in the game. The game, not surprisingly, also had an impact on car crash rates across the U.S., as one study made by two Purdue University professors reveals.

The authors reviewed the nearly 12,000 crash reports made in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, between the few months preceding the launch of Pokémon Go and the few months following it. They also took into account how many accidents occurred in intersections that are within 100 meters of a Pokéstop, where players go to obtain in-game items. 26.5 percent more accidents occurred at these intersections once the game was launched and the Pokéstops came into being.

Medication could help ADHD patients avoid car accidents

Illinois drivers diagnosed with ADHD may be at increased risk for a car crash if they are not taking medication for the disorder, according to a study. The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry in May 2017.

ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopment condition that can cause suffers to have difficulty paying attention. Other symptoms could include impulse control issues and hyperactivity. According to experts, ADHD has the potential to inhibit safe driving techniques, such as paying attention to the road. In fact, previous research has shown that ADHD sufferers are involved in more car accidents than drivers who do not have the disorder.

What to do if you face DUI charges in Illinois

With the holidays fast approaching, it is wise to be prepared on what to do in case the police pull you over for drunk driving. You do not want a DUI conviction to ruin the season for you or others.

DUI charges are no minor matter. Even the most basic first-time offense can still lead to high fines, jail time and temporary loss of license. Avoid making further mistakes that can affect your future by knowing what to do in a DUI situation.

NHTSA finds barriers to self-driving vehicle safety

Under a Senate bill approved in early October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will write permanent safety regulations for self-driving vehicles within the next decade. However, the agency has stated that there are some barriers that it must overcome. Drivers in Illinois may be interested in learning that some auto safety groups are urging more safeguards, which may put development behind for several years.

The NHTSA has requested comments regarding how much research it should conduct before deciding whether it should rewrite certain regulations or eliminate them altogether. Currently, auto manufacturers must comply with nearly 75 safety guidelines, many of which assume that a human driver will be behind the wheel. Research may take years, prompting some to look to Congress for a way to speed things up.

Stair use and injuries

Every year, over one million people in Illinois and throughout the United States are injured from using stairs. Even though women, young children and older adults tend to report the greater number of injuries, people of every age seek emergency care for bumps, fractures, sprains and strains. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the rate of stair-use injuries is rising.

Information from the Census Bureau indicates that almost 50 percent of the nation's homes have stairs. Researchers from the study have also determined that the annual direct and indirect expenses related to non-fatal injuries related to stair use reaches nearly $92 billion each year. This data supports the necessity of enhancing prevention measures.

In traffic accidents, car size is important

While vehicles have become increasingly safe with advancements in technology and additional safety features, small cars still carry higher risks when they are involved in accidents. Illinois residents who are considering purchasing small cars might want to consider the safety risks involved with driving them. When small cars are involved in collisions, the occupants are twice as likely to be killed as are occupants of large vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Small cars have smaller engines, front ends and hoods. When they have front-end crashes, there is less in front of the car occupants to absorb the impact of the collisions. The forces that are released transfer into the cabs to be absorbed by the vehicle occupants, potentially causing severe injuries.

When and where car accidents are more likely to occur

While many Illinois drivers may be under the assumption that most car accidents occur far from home, the majority of crashes actually occur within 25 miles of home. There are a number of factors for this, including the fact that many drivers go into auto-pilot mode when driving on familiar routes or through their own neighborhoods. However, there are certain things drivers can do to reduce their chances of becoming involved in a crash.

If possible, drivers should avoid driving during the late afternoon and evening hours. This is usually the time that commuters are hitting the road. Between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., 16 percent of fatal accidents occur. Those rates only get higher at night, as 31 percent of fatal accidents take place between 6 p.m. and midnight.

Collision avoidance tech could cut car crash rates

Illinois motorists could be safer on the roads if collision avoidance systems become more widely available, according to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS research indicated that lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts cut down significantly on car accidents, especially those that cause injuries.

As part of the study, the IIHS looked at over 5,000 vehicle crashes that took place in 2015, focusing on the types of collisions that these technologies were designed to prevent. The research also examined what happened for vehicles that did have the warning systems installed.

Advanced technology could lead to safer roads

The future might make traffic jams in Illinois a thing of the past. Automated vehicles could have the potential to regulate traffic more efficiently because they could travel close to each other safely. With 94 percent of crashes attributed to human error, computer-operated vehicles might significantly reduce the nearly 100 deaths that happen on roads nationwide every day.

Despite the shortcomings of human operation, computer programmers still have monumental tasks to grapple with before automated vehicles take over the highways. For example, an algorithm that governs a computer's decisions will have to know how to make choices among hitting a pedestrian, exposing passengers to harm or striking another vehicle. Although builders of automated vehicles promote their potential to vastly reduce accidents, some crashes will still occur. The assignment of liability for injuries and property damage will be greatly complicated when humans are not in control.

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