Friday, October 31, 2014

What Can Be Done To Reduce Bicycle Crashes in Illinois?

Attorney Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices being interviewed by FOX Chicago.
Last Friday, Attorney Michael S. Keating of the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices was interviewed by FOX News Chicago regarding new video technology that can record a bicycle crash in real time. The thrust of the segment was whether technology like this could help bicyclists by keeping motorists (and bicyclists) accountable because they know of the possible presence of video surveillance. In the segment, Attorney Keating noted that a video of a collision could be very beneficial in proving in court who caused a bicycle accident. Keating noted that in most cases where there isn't an independent witness, there is the bicyclist's version of events and the motorist's version of events. The possibility of video footage, especially in cases involving a hit and run,would increase the chances that the offender could be held accountable.

As technology advances and the financial costs associated with it decrease, there will soon be a day where a camera strapped to a bicycle is very commonplace. While this will greatly assist law enforcement agencies and attorneys that litigate bicycle crashes, the threat of video surveillance alone may not have a direct effect on reducing the number of bicycle crashes. After all, most bicycle accidents occur when a motorist makes some unintentional mistake. Unlike a criminal action where a criminal intends to harm another person, most bicycle accidents stem from a "human error," not some malicious intent.

In fact, far too often the refrain from a motorist who hits a bicyclist is "I didn't even see" the bicyclist. This raises the questions of what CAN be done to reduce the number of bicycle crashes in Illinois? Yesterday we posted a lengthy post on the Governors Highway Safety Association's excellent report on the growing number of fatalities nationwide that stem from bicycle accidents. Between 2010 and 2012 the study found that nationwide there was a 16% increase in the number of fatal bicycle crashes.

The report of the GHSA concluded that the following actions, in their professional opinion, would reduce the number of collisions and injuries:
  • Implementation or amendment of existing bicycle-related laws and enforcement of those laws;
  • Increased education of both motorists and bicyclists;
  • Increased and improved bicycle infrastructure and road sharing;
  • Efforts to increase use of helmets and the visibility of bicycles and bicyclists;
  • Reduce speeds of motor vehicles;
  • Reduce drunk bicycling.
As bicycle attorneys in Illinois, we see first hand the devastation that can occur when a bicyclist is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. We applaud the efforts of the GHSA to give due attention to the very real issues surrounding safe bicycling. The findings of this will ideal serve as crucial information available to legislators to help increase these efforts.

In particular, federal funding that can lead to increased bicycle infrastructure would create roadways and bike lanes that would permanently be more conducive to safe bicycling. Particularly in congested urban areas, the presence of protected or buffered bike lanes can create a "safe zone" between bicycles and motor vehicles that would lead to fewer bicycle collisions. With more funding for these initiatives, the goal of safer bicycling could become a reality.

Keating Law Offices represents victims of bicycle accidents in courts throughout Illinois. The firm also represents clients in Illinois in personal injury and wrongful death claims with insurance companies prior to litigation. The firm is a national leader in the field of bicycle law. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.