It is basic human instinct to try and control the circumstances surrounding our daily lives and that often stretches to our driving habits. Most motorists will claim that they operate their cars in a reasonable and safe manner, desiring to keep themselves and others near them safe and accident-free. However, a deeper look into Chicago’s driving scene reveals that numerous drivers speed, tailgate, exhibit signs of road rage, weave in and out of traffic, and even drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol on an occasional basis. With so many threatening and reckless factors contributing to roadways safety, it may be surprising just how many people avoid a car accident daily.
Any type of traffic accident can be serious but a rollover collision always poses a significant threat to personal safety. In fact, rollovers are estimated to make up about three percent of all collisions nationwide but they are involved in about 30 percent of deaths among those in a passenger vehicle. The most troubling aspect of a rollover crash is that so many can be prevented when you realize that nearly half of rollover incidents involve one or more drivers who have enough alcohol in their systems to make them impaired.
Common thought here in Illinois is that it is both safe and legal to drive after drinking as long as your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) does not meet or exceed the state limit of .08. However, this logic is both incorrect and flawed as the laws in the state make it clear that a motorist can be guilty of drunk driving with any amount of alcohol in her system if that alcohol leads to her impairment. Having less than one alcoholic beverage can make you a drunk driver if you are not able to properly control your car due to the booze or if you engage in conduct that is otherwise harmful to others. Additionally, certain classes of drivers like those under age 21, those who drive a school bus, and some other professional drivers, are not authorized to operate their vehicles with even a drop of alcohol in their systems. Doing so can lead to serious legal consequences and may cause that driver to be held liable for any harm that results, including personal injuries among accident victims and any associated medical bills.
The limit of .08 in Chicago exists as a way for officers to presume intoxication. Therefore, if you drive and you have a BAC of .08 or higher, a law enforcement officer will not give you the benefit of the doubt but rather will assume you are drunk and will issue charges accordingly. Stopping drunk drivers before they cause an accident, like a rollover, is critically important to promoting safety on our city’s streets.
Alcohol limits a driver’s ability to react quickly to changing circumstances, including navigating curves, stopping for slowed traffic, and understanding where and when to turn while driving which leads to an increased risk for an accident. As speeds increase, the odds of an accident turning into a rollover increase in response and will make it more likely that those inside a car will be hurt.
If you want to protect yourself and others nearby, never drink and drive to decrease the odds of a rollover. Maintain control of your vehicle and keep your attention focused on the roadway in front of you, resisting the urge to succumb to distractions inside of your vehicle or to let your mind wander. Also realize that your tendency to drive at a reasonable or excessive speed will impact your odds of a rollover as 40 percent of all rollover instances in America are believed to involve excessive speed. In fact, roughly 75 percent of all fatal rollover incidents occur on roadways where speed limits are 55 miles per hour or greater, emphasizing the role that speed can play in these collisions.
Hopefully, you will never be involved in a rollover accident in Chicago and you will not need to know what steps to take to protect your legal options. However, if the unthinkable does occur and you find yourself or someone you love injured due to a crash, know that consulting with a personal injury attorney can help you realize what rights you possess and can help you move down a path toward financially recovery if you possess a valid claim for your damages.
Prior Blog Entry:
Drivers Owe a Duty to Bicyclists when Crossing Paths in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 29, 2016.
Rollover, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, safecar.org.
Causes (Rollover), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, safecar.org.