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Central Illinois Law Blog

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.

Seeking medical help is doubly important after a car crash

You may drive along the same stretch of road day after day without incident, going to work, going to a game or joining up with friends on a Saturday night. You feel comfortable, given the familiar surroundings, but you should never become complacent. An accident can happen when and where you least expect a vehicle crash to occur.

Whether you suffer minor scratches or more serious injuries as the result of a collision, getting medical help should be top of mind. The reasons are two-fold: Timely medical assistance is important for your health, of course, but it is also essential in terms of the compensation you hope to receive from an insurance claim.

Device may help alert sleepy drivers

Illinois drivers might be able to purchase a device that will alert them if they are becoming drowsy while behind the wheel. A company called Creative Mode has developed the Steer, a device worn on the wrist that monitors a person's sweat and heartbeat to detect changes indicating the person is falling asleep.

The device first delivers a vibration and then an electric shock. Initially, the team that developed the Steer experimented with using vibrations to alert the driver, but these were not always powerful enough. The team was then surprised to learn that a gentle shock caused no damage or pain but was enough to wake up the driver. The shock is also supposed to increase the levels of hormones that help keep a person awake such as serotonin. This allows the driver to find a place to pull over and get some rest.

Study shows speed limit increases may have caused more fatalities

Illinois residents may be interested to learn that many traffic fatalities have been linked to higher speed limits across the U.S. According to a study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the increase in speed limits over the last 20 years have resulted in an estimated 33,000 fatalities, with 1,900 of those fatalities occurring in 2013 alone.

Speed limits were traditionally kept at 55 mph starting in 1973. Congress required states to set their maximum speed limits to 55 mph in order to be eligible to receive highway funds. However, the 55 mph speed limit maximum was introduced out of concern for fuel availability and not for safety. The restriction was relaxed in 1987 when fuel availability concerns were fading. States eventually began to increase rural interstate speed limits to 65 mph. In 1995, the law, called the National Maximum Speed Limit, was completely repealed and states began to set the maximum speed limits even higher.

Some large cars fail to achieve safety honors

Some large cars popular among Illinois drivers have received accolades for their high levels of safety, but other high-profile models did not. The Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Avalon sedans were praised with the Top Safety Pick Plus label by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the auto safety arm of the car insurance industry.

However, the Tesla Model S, Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala did not receive the designation noting top marks in safety for drivers. The IIHS carries out crash tests on consumer vehicles, including cars, trucks and SUVs, to determine how they would fare in a real car crash.

Suffering an ankle injury after a slip-and-fall accident

If an Illinois business fails to properly maintain its property or minimize hazards that may be found on the property, a person who injuries an ankle while visiting the premises could hold the business financially responsible. Because ankle injuries can be severe, the injured person could need extensive medical treatment.

The ankle joint is comprised of a number of different components that all work together to provide stability and mobility. The three bones in the ankle include the heel, called the talus, and the fibula and tibia, the two bones that make up the lower leg. Tendons and ligaments keep the ankle stable and allows the joint to flex and move. The synovium, or the joint capsule, cushions the bones to prevent damage while the joint is in motion.

Liability in amusement park accidents

People who enjoy going to Illinois amusement parks may wonder who is liable when an accident occurs. In some cases, the manufacturer may share responsibility with the park owners and operators.

This was the case in an accident that happened at a park in Kansas in 2016. A 10-year-old boy was killed on a water ride. Reportedly, the settlement was $20 million although the exact amount was undisclosed. The manufacturer of the ride's rafts and the park's owners and operators were all involved in the settlement.

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