You Can Take Steps to Keep Your Young Passengers Safe During September’s National Safety Week

This year, National Child Passenger Safety Week will take place the week of September 13, ending with “Seat Check Saturday” on September 19. Organizations across the nation will be marking the week with education and awareness campaigns, and it’s likely that you’ll see or hear about child passenger safety from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and other organizations in Illinois. Although you may believe that you’re doing everything right, don’t ignore the message if you drive with young passengers in the car. This month, make sure that you are doing all you can do to improve their safety.

Five Ways to Make Sure Kids Are Safe in Car Seats

If a car seat is the wrong fit or used improperly, it might not protect your child adequately in an accident. It’s important to know how to find the right car seat for your situation. Safe Kids Worldwide has a quick guide to a car seat checkup you can do at home. This includes five fairly basic steps:

  1. Make sure the car seat or booster seat you use is appropriate for your child’s age and size. Check the label on the seat you’re using from time to time to make sure that it’s still the right seat as your child grows.
  2. Always keep children in car seats in the back seat.
  3. Use a rear-facing car seat for the first two years or so, and wait as long as possible before switching to a forward-facing seat.
  4. Make sure you can’t move the car seat more than an inch to either side once it’s strapped in.
  5. Once all the straps are properly buckled up, try to pinch the belt at your child’s shoulder. You shouldn’t be able to pinch any excess material.

Ultimately, the best way to make sure you’re using your car seat properly is to have a professional take a look. On September 19, take part in Seat Check Saturday by stopping by a child car seat inspection location. Look for an inspection station near you.

Older Children Still Need Special Care in the Car

As children grow out of their car seats and booster seats, they still need to be buckled up properly to stay safe. Here are some tips for making sure older children are protected, too:

  • Talk to your kids about the importance of always using a seatbelt in the car, and make sure that they stay buckled up when they ride.
  • Even if your child is getting to the age where it’s “uncool” to use a booster seat, remember that it could save his or her life in an accident. If your child’s height and weight make a booster seat necessary, don’t let him or her ride without one.
  • Children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat of the car, even after they’re too big for a booster seat. The back seat is much safer for children should an accident occur.

Did you find this article helpful? Find more tips and information about driving safely, protecting your children, and your rights if a family member has been injured by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

Planning a Summer Road Trip? Follow These Summer Travel Safety Tips to Make Sure Your Vehicle is Ready for the Road.

You may be looking forward to your family’s summer road trip as a break from the usual duties and routines of daily life, but there are still a few things you should be doing to get prepared. Taking just a little bit of time out to make sure you have everything you need to travel safely can mean that your trip is more enjoyable and less likely to put your family at risk.

Tips for Safer Summer Road Trips

While you may be focused on your destination, you should also be taking the time to focus on what you can do to make sure you “get there in one piece.” Road trip safety doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time—it really just takes a little planning and common-sense precaution. If you need some help getting started on a safety check before you hit the road, here’s a breakdown of some summer driving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready for the Trip

Even if you’ve stayed on top of your vehicle maintenance routine, walk through a basic safety inspection before you pack up for your vacation. You or your mechanic should carefully check your battery, tires, brakes, windshield wipers, fluid levels, and service your air conditioning.

Check for any recalls you may have missed by using the NHTSA’s VIN Lookup Tool.

Have an Emergency Kit Ready

Breakdowns and accidents happen—are you prepared? Don’t forget to pack up some emergency supplies, just in case. You should think about taking:

  • A phone and charger for the car
  • A battery jumping cable for the car
  • A first-aid kit
  • A flashlight
  • Emergency flares
  • A tire pressure gauge
  • A jack
  • Heavy gloves and change of clothes
  • Water and extra food
  • Extra washer fluid
  • Paper maps as a backup for your GPS device
  • Blankets and towels

Be Prepared If You’re Traveling With Kids–Common Sense Rules!

If you plan to travel with young family members, you should be planning to keep them safe and happy for a long drive. Plan enough time to take frequent breaks outside the car, and bring favorite books or car-safe toys to keep them occupied. Remember that kids are more vulnerable to heatstroke, so they should never be left unattended in a vehicle. You may also want to get sunshades for the back seat and make sure everyone has sunglasses and sunblock. It’s also not a bad idea to talk to your kids about safety in and around the vehicle and develop a plan for sticking together at crowded destinations.

Traffic Laws Don’t Take Summer Vacations

The rules of the road always apply, whether you’re driving around town on a typical day or heading out for vacation. Summer driving also means sharing the road with more motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians. Even if you’re making a long drive, remember to stay alert and be aware of traffic laws in the areas you are traveling through. Avoid common driving risks while on vacation like distracted driving, drinking or using drugs, speeding, or slipping out of your seatbelt.

Do you have your own tried-and-true tips for making road trips safer and more fun? Share them in the comments below or connect with Lane Brown on Facebook!

A Few Ideas to Help You Adjust to the Time Change and Avoid Driving Drowsy

When you’re tired, it’s hard to do anything effectively—and that includes driving.

Recent research suggests that the switch to Daylight Savings Time each year may contribute to an increase in fatal car accidents for nearly a week after clocks “spring forward,” and part of the problem may be drowsy drivers who have effectively lost an hour of sleep. However, you don’t have to let the time change take you by surprise. Before you get behind the wheel on Monday morning, try a few of these ideas for adjusting to Daylight Savings Time:

  • Try going to bed a little earlier. You know that you’ll be “losing” an hour of sleep, so plan ahead to make sure that you’ve had enough rest to drive safely—both in the morning and on the drive home in the dark later that evening.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Making sure that you’re getting regular, healthy sleep can help you adjust more quickly to changes in routine.
  • Get some sunlight as soon as you get up. Light is your body’s signal to “wake up,” so make sure that you get some sunlight or turn on a bright light as soon as you get up on Sunday.
  • Give caffeine time to work. A cup of coffee can take 30 minutes to have an effect on alertness, so grabbing that extra cup right before you run out the door may not help you adjust to the earlier morning.

Even though you may try your best to plan ahead and stay safe on the road, accidents still can and do happen. If you have already been hurt in a wreck with a drowsy or distracted driver, don’t hesitate to contact our legal team at 312-332-1400 with your questions.

Don’t Overlook Safety in Your Rush to Get to Work on Snowy Mornings

In the rush to get to work in the morning, it may be tempting to cut corners when you find your car covered in snow. However, if you try to make up time by speeding to the office or driving with iced-over windows, you could cause an accident. Here are some tips to make a snowy morning commute a little safer:

  • Plan ahead to give yourself enough time. Check the weather report the night before and give yourself ample time to get to work if snow is expected.
  • Keep a set of snow tools in the car and at home. If your car is buried in ice and snow, it can be helpful to have a second set of ice brushes, heavy gloves, shovels, and other snow-removal tools in your home. Otherwise, you may be trying to chip your way into your trunk just to get to your scraper and brush!
  • Wait until the windshield is completely clear. Don’t be tempted to just clear a tiny circle in front of the driver’s seat—make sure you wait until the windshield, mirrors, and side windows have completely defrosted and allow for good visibility.
  • Don’t forget to clear the roof. Use your ice brush or a broom to clear the snow from the top of your car, too. If you don’t, as your car warms up on your commute, there’s a chance that the whole sheet of snow will suddenly dislodge and cover either your windshield or the windshield of the driver behind you.
  • Think about the best route to take. If you normally take the side roads to work, you might consider using the main roads when the weather is bad. Residential streets and less-popular routes may be faster when the weather is good, but they’re often the last streets to be cleared after a major snowfall.

Once you are on the road, remember to take it slow and keep your focus on the road. Even a light dusting of snow or a little black ice can cause a serious accident if drivers go too fast or aren’t paying attention, and you can’t always be sure that the drivers you share the road with are making safe choices. It’s better to “arrive alive” a few minutes late than to take unnecessary risks on the road.

Do you have other suggestions for staying safe and surviving the morning after a major snowfall? Leave us a comment below or connect with Lane Brown on Facebook to get the discussion started!

Reports of Traffic Safety in Illinois for 2014 Show Mix of Tragedy and Hope

Eyes across the state of Illinois turned to traffic safety issues numerous times in 2014—sometimes with grief, but sometimes with hope for a better future. Here’s a summary of some of the biggest stories from last year and a little information about efforts toward changes that could support greater safety and fewer fatalities on our roads in 2015.

Cars and Trucks

While there was a decrease in fatal car accidents statewide in 2014, accidents around Chicago and across the state still took lives, caused injuries, and made headlines throughout the year. Prominent educational programs targeted Illinois drivers, and many agencies launched efforts against distraction, fatigue, and other dangerous or reckless driving behaviors. In light of the highly publicized truck wreck that injured actor Tracy Morgan and a tragic accident that took the life of a much-loved member of Chicago’s theatre community, truck accidents and trucking safety were especially under scrutiny last year.

Nationwide attention was also turned to potentially dangerous issues with vehicles and roadways that are beyond the driver’s control, including increased questions about potentially deadly Trinity guardrails and safety issues with Takata airbags.


According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, motorcycle fatalities also decreased in 2014, dropping by nearly 30 percent compared to 2013 for the period between January and July. Although it’s been argued that the decrease might be partially due to having fewer registered motorcyclists on the road, some have pointed to a change in Illinois speed-limit laws last year that may make rural interstates safer for motorcycles.

Bikes and Pedestrians

The tragic number of bike and pedestrian deaths received a lot of attention in 2014—and with good reason. Illinois already ranks fifth in the nation for bicycle deaths, and reports showed an increase in pedestrian deaths compared to 2013. Multiple efforts are being made to reduce those numbers as we enter 2015, including:

  • Chicago’s Vision Zero program has committed to a goal to eliminate pedestrian traffic deaths by 2022, with a special focus on the risk of pedestrian fatalities when a driver is speeding.
  • The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced a plan to study the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in District One, which includes Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, and Will Counties. IDOT brought on Primera to help fill research gaps and look at a number of potential safety strategies, such as protected and buffered bike lanes, bike traffic signals, pedestrian scrambles, better crosswalk signals, high-tech pedestrian signals, and more.
  • The Illinois Bike Transportation Plan, released by IDOT, continued its efforts toward making safe biking a reality across the state and providing long-term planning to accommodate cyclists.

Bus and Rail Commuters

Although commuters using the CTA may be safer than drivers on Chicago’s roads, there were still a number of notable accidents and injuries involving mass transportation in 2014:


While formal investigations were launched into these mass-transit incidents, and some changes—like the planned rebuilding of Blue Line stations—were made, it could be a long wait for other rail-industry changes that might keep passengers safer.

What kinds of traffic and safety changes would you like to see in Illinois in the coming year? Share your comments with our team below, or connect with us on Facebook for regular updates throughout 2015.

There are many potential ways to prevent a car accident, pedestrian crash, or bike wreck. One way is to prevent driver negligence. Another way is to improve our roads and infrastructure to prevent confusion and encourage safety. While we typically focus on driver behavior, today we are going to think about what can be done by the Chicago Department of Transportation, or other government agencies, to prevent serious accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Active Transportation Alliance Identifies Safety Priorities

Earlier this year, the Active Transportation Alliance released its 2014 priority list for the Chicago Department of Transportation. More specifically, the organization shared its top 10 priorities to improve safety for bikers, walkers, and mass-transit users in our city.

The organization’s list included:

  • Expanding the Divvy bike-sharing program
  • Connecting gaps existing between bike lanes
  • Building protected bike lanes with concrete curbs and building more Neighborhood Greenways
  • Maintaining bike lanes and unmarked bike routes to fix faded paint lines, potholes, and rough spots
  • Securing dedicated funds for pedestrian infrastructure and safety
  • Completing final designs for the Ashland rapid transit line
  • Developing an online crash database
  • Championing policy changes to increase secure bike parking in high-occupancy buildings
  • Retrofitting the most dangerous intersections and street crossings
  • Launching the Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit service

What Would You Add?

Are you concerned about the safety of Chicago’s roads for bikers, walkers, mass transit users and motorists? What advice would you give the Chicago Department of Transportation? Please leave a comment in the space below and tell us what you think.



Get Answers, Contact Us Now REQUEST A CONSULTATION
OR CALL NOW 312-332-1400