Last week's tragic truck accident on Interstate 55 near Elwood has renewed concerns about log book practices and overworked drivers. The driver in that case is accused of falsifying his log book entry. His paper log book indicated he began working around 6-6:30 a.m. Investigators have uncovered evidence that he actually started work at around 2:30 a.m. If the allegation is true, it will likely increase the pressure on safety officials to accelerate the move to electronic record keeping.
Following a serious truck accident, victims and their families often must turn to the truck company's insurance provider to obtain proper compensation. The minimum insurance policy a truck company can hold under the law is $750,000. This level was set in 1985, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Due to rising medical costs and inflation, $750,000 may be inadequate to cover the victims of a catastrophic crash.
Taxi drivers in Chicago are subject to specific requirements regarding background checks, drug testing, vehicle inspections and proper insurance. However, the same regulations, which are in place to minimize uncertainty and protect passengers and pedestrians from injury, don't apply to the emerging ride-sharing companies such as UberX and Lyft. These companies offer private cars for hire throughout the state.
Roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In an attempt to reduce these deadly incidents, new legislation has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, the law would require all 50 states to order mandatory ignition interlock devices for people convicted of drinking and driving. Currently, states are allowed to set their own laws regarding criminal penalties for drunk driving. The proposed law would require the devices remain in place for at least six months following the conviction.
The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced his intention to propose new auto safety legislation later this year or early next year. The announcement joined several other proposals intended to combat the problems demonstrated by the General Motors ignition switch failures and subsequent recall. The proposal would overhaul the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, passed in 2000. The TREAD act was originally passed as part of the response to nearly 300 fatalities linked to defective Firestone tires on Ford SUVs.
Chicago city officials have set a goal to reduce serious pedestrian injuries by 50 percent over the next five years. The goal is eliminate such accidents completely in the five years following that. According to the executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, 7-8 pedestrian injuries occur each day in Chicago. Pedestrian-vehicle collisions cause more than 3,000 injuries and 30 deaths per year in the city. The problem is substantial.