Illinois is home to one of the largest railroad networks in the U.S., and the country’s single largest rail hub is based in Chicago. Not surprisingly, Illinois has more railroad crossings than any other state save Texas. According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the state has over 8,400 highway rail-grade crossings and almost 400 pedestrian grade crossings. This high number of crossings creates a significant risk of accidents, which may be worsening. As CBS News reports, last year, fatal railroad crossing accidents increased markedly in Illinois. The number of fatalities reported in 2014 made Illinois the state with the second-highest number of railroad crossing deaths. Tragically, 21 people lost their lives. This constituted a 61 percent rise over the number of fatal accidents recorded in 2013. Troublingly, this uptick represents the first time in decades that fatal railroad accidents in Illinois have increased. This shift also mirrors a national pattern, in which fatal railroad crossing accidents rose 8 percent from 2013 to 2014. Several factors might contribute to this troubling development. According to the Association of American Railroads, freight traffic increased from 2013 to 2014, reaching the highest number of freight carloads since 2008. As the economy improves, further growth is expected. This increase in traffic may raise the risk of accidents. The advocacy group Operation Lifesaver also notes that technology has become an increasingly prevalent distraction in recent years. This distraction may prevent drivers or pedestrians from noticing crossings, stopping far enough away or detecting approaching trains. While some accidents might involve mistakes on the part of motorists or pedestrians, others may occur because railroad crossings are poorly designed or maintained. For example, inadequate signage may prevent motorists from realizing they are entering a crossing. Overgrown vegetation can obscure the sight of a railroad crossing warning sign or an approaching train. Malfunctioning signals or gates may cause people to unwittingly enter crossings at unsafe times. Various improvements could help address these issues. Automated warning devices, such as gates or lights, can ensure drivers and pedestrians are alert to approaching trains. The installation of monitoring devices, which warn authorities of signal or gate malfunctions, could help prevent accidents. More widespread use of interconnected circuitry, which synchronizes traffic and railroad crossing signals at intersections, could also lower the risk of train-vehicle collisions. Grade-separated crossings, which let drivers or pedestrians cross railroads via underground tunnels or overhead bridges, can fully eliminate the[READ MORE…]
Medical research plays a critical role in the development of new treatment protocols. Many people here in Illinois receive medical care based on the latest studies and findings. However, much of this research may be questionable. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that up to half of the most respected findings published over a 13-year period were exaggerated or incorrect. This unreliable research can leave patients at risk for incorrect treatment and adverse outcomes. Examples of inaccurate medical research are numerous. In 1998, a well-known study incorrectly linked autism to certain childhood vaccinations. According to Bloomberg, a later study concluded the vaccination study was fraudulent. More recently, a Harvard biologist authored a fake study, which found that participants who ate chocolate daily were more likely to lose weight. According to The Chicago Tribune, multiple online journals accepted the study, and numerous news sources presented it as reliable. These inaccurate studies can have severe consequences. For example, after research erroneously suggested bone marrow transplants could treat breast cancer, 40,000 women underwent this procedure. In addition to missing out on more effective treatments, these women were exposed unnecessarily to serious potential complications. As Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explains, bone marrow transplants can cause infections, graft failure and graft-versus host disease. These complications can lead to respiratory issues, organ damage and even death. Inaccurate medical research isn’t always a product of innocent errors. According to The Chicago Tribune, one study reviewed 2,000 retractions of papers published in prominent medical journals and concluded two-thirds involved fraud. Frequently, this fraud may occur due to conflicts of interest. Pharmaceutical companies or government entities fund most medical research, introducing a potential for bias. As The Atlantic explains, researchers also must produce findings worthy of publication in leading journals to secure funding or advance their careers. Therefore, some researchers may exaggerate, misrepresent or invent results. The peer review process doesn’t always succeed in catching these lapses. The Chicago Tribune notes that the professionals conducting the reviews often have their own biases or conflicts of interest. Some studies also don’t receive adequate professional review. When these studies are published in mainstream media, journalists may fail to critically assess the research and conclusions. Fraudulent medical research may represent a growing issue. Since 1975, the number of studies retracted based on fraud has grown tenfold, according to The Chicago Tribune. Widespread changes might be[READ MORE…]
A woman who was recently injured in a fatal bus accident here in Chicago has chosen the Ankin Law Office LLC to represent her in a personal injury lawsuit. Attorney John Topolewski sat on a phone call that the victim, 34-year-old Martine Anoine, held with the Chicago Tribune. Four months ago, Antoine moved to Chicago from New York to study sign language interpretation at Columbia University. On one early evening in June, she and two other passengers were on the bus. Topolewski provided a screenshot of her Ventra card statement with a timestamp of 5:29 p.m. for the No. 148 bus. Shortly thereafter, two people, who were not emergency responders, helped her from the wrecked bus and she was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, Topolewski said. She suffered neck and knee injuries and bruises elsewhere. Describing the experience as violent and “extremely frightening,” Antoine said she was thrown from her seat into the seats in front of her. The Chicago Transit Authority bus allegedly ran a red light, killing a woman and causing injuries to seven others. The CTA cited reports from the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department stating that the bus driver was alone, but Antoine’s ticket clearly demonstrates otherwise. Shortly before the incident, Antoine recalled the driver, 48-year-old Donald Barnes, yelling at a vehicle in his path. Looking up from her phone, Antoine saw a black vehicle near the left side of the bus and a silver or gold car to the right. The No. 148 bus had departed the stop at Harrison and State streets and was moving toward its next stop. Around 5:50 p.m., officials said the bus came to a red light on Lake and stopped. Then it suddenly accelerated into traffic on Michigan. The bus jumped a curb and finally came to a stop on a pedestrian plaza. “It was literally something out of an action movie,” Antoine said, noting that she did not think that the driver came to a full stop at the light. Aimee Coath, a 51-year-old from Flossmoor, was killed when the bus ran her over. According to an attorney from the firm that filed a wrongful death lawsuit on the family’s behalf, the Coaths had been planning a wedding for Aimee’s daughter. The suit names the CTA and Barnes as the defendants. Barnes, who has been working with the CTA since September of last year, was[READ MORE…]
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