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The Dangers of Teenage Driving and How to Protect ThemThe summer is a time of year when many teens are learning how to drive and getting their driver’s license. While teens may be excited by this life development, parents have reason to be concerned about their safety. Drivers ages 16 to 19 are more likely to be in a vehicle accident than any other age group in the U.S. In 2016, more than 2,400 teens in the U.S. were killed in motor vehicle accidents and almost 300,000 were treated for personal injuries. As a parent, you need to be aware of the dangers that teenage drivers face and how you can protect them.

Dangers

The main reason that teenage drivers are involved in more accidents is the most obvious reason: they lack driving experience. Beyond the technical aspects of operating a vehicle, learning to drive is about making quick judgment calls. Teen drivers are more likely to:

  • Drive at speeds that are unsafe for the conditions;
  • Misjudge how they need to react to a hazard;
  • Become distracted by digital devices or friends in the vehicle; and
  • Forget to wear their seatbelts.

Teens may also make poor decisions before they start driving, such as drinking alcohol. Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. A teen driver with any amount of alcohol in their system is breaking the law. Even if a teen’s blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limit for an adult, they may not be able to drive safely with that level of intoxication.

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Illinois Police Warn of Danger from Trucks that Bypass Weigh StationsThe Illinois State Police is responding to what it believes is a significant number of truck drivers who avoid the mandatory weigh stations along Illinois highways. Officers are stationed near weigh stations, watching for trucks that do not pass through the weigh stations or violate other traffic laws. “Operation ByPass” is currently focused on Illinois State Police District 5, which includes Grundy, Kendall, and Will counties. Drivers across Illinois are at risk of personal injury from being in a crash with a commercial truck that is over the weight limit.

Problems with Overweight Trucks

Illinois requires trucks to go through weigh stations because a truck that is over the weight limit could cause damage to bridges and overpasses. The maximum allowable weight depends on the number of axles and the length between them. No truck is allowed to weight more than 80,000 pounds. Overweight trucks are also dangerous to other drivers on the road and can increase the risk of accidents. Because of their size and weight, trucks normally have more difficulty:

  • Maneuvering;
  • Making wide turns;
  • Coming to a quick stop; and
  • Maintaining control when going downhill.

These driving problems increase as a truck gets heavier. When a truck is over the weight limit, its response time will be slower than other drivers normally expect from a truck.

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Five Common Causes of Motorcycle CrashesMotorcycles riders are vulnerable in ways that other motorists are not. Even wearing all the recommended safety gear can only do so much to protect a rider during an accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to receive personal injury compensation if another party was at fault. However, proving fault may depend on what caused the accident. Here are five common causes of motorcycle accidents and the likelihood that someone else was at fault.

  1. Other Moving Vehicles: Common accidents between motorcycles and other vehicles involve left turns, lane changes, and rear-ending. Drivers of larger vehicles can be careless about watching for motorcycles, misjudge their speed or simply not see them in their blind spots. The driver of the other vehicle may be at fault for your accident if their actions put you in danger and you attempted to use defensive riding techniques to avoid the accident.
  2. Open Car Doors: People inside parked vehicles can cause motorcycle accidents when they suddenly open their doors. It can be difficult to see a motorcycle coming from behind, though some people fail to look when exiting the vehicle. Whether the person in the vehicle was at fault largely depends on whether you were traveling at a safe speed. Motorcycles should be extra cautious when riding down a narrow road with parked vehicles.
  3. Road Hazards: Riders are at risk of losing control of their motorcycles when they encounter surfaces that are wet or covered in debris. There is no liable party when the weather makes the road slick unless the negligent design of the road caused an unnatural accumulation of water or ice. A public road in disrepair may cause an accident, but local governments are immune from lawsuits unless you can prove willful and wanton negligence. Property owners may be liable for the unnatural debris they create on the road adjacent to their properties. For instance, lawn clippings can become slick when combined with rain and many municipalities have ordinances against blowing lawn clippings into the street.
  4. Speeding: Many motorcycle accidents can be avoided if the rider is able to slow down in time. Riders are at least partially at fault for an accident when they are traveling at unsafe speeds. The safe speed may be below the speed limit if the road conditions are poor or the rider is approaching a sharp curve in the road.
  5. Riding Under the Influence: Riding your motorcycle while intoxicated is an avoidable hazard. Other parties will not be liable if you were drunk at the time of your accident.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

Motorcycle accidents can cause severe injuries to riders, if not death. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive the compensation you need to cover your medical costs and suffering. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Tort Immunity Makes It Difficult to Collect Injury Compensation from PoliceWhen can a police officer be held liable for causing a traffic accident that results in personal injury to another party? Illinois gives officers tort immunity in situations where they are responding to an emergency. The officer’s driving actions could be negligent, reckless or illegal, but the police department would be protected from civil penalties as long as the officer was in the process of enforcing the law. While it may be necessary to allow officers to respond to emergencies without worrying about civil repercussions, it can deny car crash victims the chance to receive compensation when someone else was at fault for their accident.

Exceptions to Immunity

A court will allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit against a police department if you can prove one of two circumstances:

  • The officer was not engaged in executing the law at the time of the crash; or
  • The officer’s conduct showed a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.

It can be difficult to prove either of these exceptions. Courts tend to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt when they claim that their actions were necessary or part of their job. A recent case shows how much leeway the law gives police officers who are involved in car accidents.

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Left-Turning Drivers Pose Threat to PedestriansA majority of the accidents that occur at intersections are the result of a vehicle making a left turn. Drivers can easily misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or may not see the vehicle because of their vision being obstructed. Oncoming drivers may suffer serious injuries if they have a head-on collision with a vehicle that turns in front of them. Pedestrians in a crosswalk can also be injured when a vehicle makes a risky or illegal left turn. There are four factors that make left-turning vehicles dangerous to pedestrians:

  1. Driver Impatience: It can be frustrating to wait at an intersection for a chance to turn left, especially when there is not a left turn signal. The driver may act hastily when there is finally a gap in the oncoming traffic or the light is about to turn red. He or she may not think to look for pedestrians, who have the right-of-way to cross the street at the intersection.
  2. Quick Acceleration: Drivers must increase their speed when making left turns because of the wide turn radius. They may also rush to fit into the small window they have to make a turn against oncoming traffic. A fast-moving vehicle will have more difficulty stopping for a pedestrian and can cause greater injuries if a collision does occur.
  3. Blind Spots: A left-turning driver will likely notice a crowd of people in a crosswalk but could miss a single pedestrian who happens to be in his or her blind spot. The A-pillars on a vehicle, which hold the windshield, can obstruct a driver’s vision during a left turn. Car companies are designing wider A-pillars to store airbags and increase vehicle safety during rollovers. Unfortunately, wider A-pillars create larger blind spots for drivers.
  4. Oncoming Vehicles: A vehicle making a dangerous left turn affects the behavior of other vehicles on the road. An oncoming driver could react to a vehicle turning in front of him or her by swerving to avoid a collision, putting pedestrians at risk. A second vehicle could rear-end the oncoming vehicle, pushing it further into the intersection.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

The driver of a left-turning vehicle will likely be liable for hitting you while you are in a crosswalk. You may share contributory negligence if the crosswalk light told you to stop, but you can still receive injury compensation as long as the driver was more than half at fault. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838. 

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Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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