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The Dangers of Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving

Web Admin - Friday, November 28, 2014

hands free device danger, Illinois personal injury lawyerEveryone knows they should avoid texting and driving. Focusing on a smartphone screen rather than the road is a recipe for disaster, and may lead to serious accidents. This common sense principle has led Illinois to pass a law forcing drivers to only use hands free devices when they are driving. However, even though hands free cell phone use lets people keep their eyes on the road, it still does not entirely remove the distraction of speaking on the phone. Additionally, the use of hands free technology may also bring a curious piece of human psychology known as the Peltzman effect into play.

Hands Free Device Statistics

Hands free driving seems like it should make people safer, but some studies show it may actually pose even more risks. Either way, the statistics show that it can still be dangerous. For instance, even though only nine percent of drivers are using phones at any given time, these drivers are involved in 26 percent of all crashes. This is because 90 percent of crashes involve driver error rather than the environment or mechanical failures.

A lot of the problems caused by phones are a function of how the brain processes information. Although many people believe they are capable of multitasking, that is actually an illusion. The brain cannot actually perform multiple tasks at one time. Instead, the brain switches rapidly back and forth between the two tasks, but it does not do it perfectly. This means that the brain's visual processing can be reduced by up to 33 percent while on the phone. This can lead to people missing half of everything going on around them while they talk. However, that failure to multitask is not the only human mental quirk that affects this scenario.

The Peltzman Effect

People using hands free technology may also be falling victim to what economists refer to as the Peltzman effect. The Peltzman effect, which was originally identified by its namesake in the 70s, relates to the fact that people generally have a reasonably constant amount of risk they are willing to take. This can result in regulations that are designed to keep people safe actually having a diminished effect because people are then more willing to take other risks. For instance, people may feel safer when using hands free technology, so they may be more willing to drive faster or pay less attention to the road. Importantly, economists still debate how much extra risk the Peltzman effect actually encourages people to take. Although numerous studies have found evidence of its existence, the magnitude of its impact varies greatly between each study.

Distracted driving is dangerous, regardless of the distraction. If you have recently been injured by the carelessness of a distracted driver, contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney today. Our firm helps injured victims across the northwest suburbs in towns like Palatine, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Boating Safety Laws in Illinois

Web Admin - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

illinois boating accident lawyerOne of the most common summer activities around Illinois is boating. It is a great way for people to get out and enjoy the water and the good weather. However, boating is also a dangerous activity if people do not do it with the proper care. 

Consequently, Illinois has a variety of boating safety laws in place to help ensure that everyone can safely take advantage of the summer weather while it lasts. These laws were recently updated following the death of a 10-year-old boy in an alleged drunk boating accident. The new laws include further restrictions and increased penalties on operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, special signaling requirements for safety and visibility, and boating licenses for younger operators.

Boating and Alcohol

One of the most common causes of boating fatalities is the improper use of alcohol while boating. Just like driving a car, operating a boat while intoxicated increases the risk of death or serious injury while on the water. In fact, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, despite alcohol being involved in approximately one in six boating accidents overall, it has been a factor in one-third of the boating deaths this year.

Boaters should keep in mind that the legal limit for operating a boat or personal watercraft is the same as it is for driving a car: 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. The penalties for such violations can be severe, including thousands of dollars in fines and up to 14 years in prison if the impaired boat operation results in a person's death. Additionally, if a person is convicted of three DUIs, then the state may take their boat from them as part of the penalty. Boating DUIs can also affect a person's ability legally to drive their car since courts may punish intoxicated boaters by suspending their driver's licenses.

Signaling and License Requirements

The updated laws also have new requirements as far as signaling and licensing requirements are concerned. Now, any boat that is pulling someone behind it in a tube or on water skis must display a bright orange flag from the highest point on the boat. The flag must be at least a one-foot square, and it must stay out the entire time that the boat pulls the person. The law also added a new license requirement for boat operators between the ages of 12 and 17. Starting in 2016, minor operators must complete a boating safety course before they can operate a motorboat.  

If you have recently been involved in a boating accident caused by the negligence of others, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our skilled team of lawyers represents clients in many northwest suburban towns like Rolling Meadows, Barrington, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


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