Accident fatalities across Illinois have risen in the past decade and more than one-thousand people died in 2016 as the result of dangerous driving behaviors including distracted driving and drunk driving. Motorists can reduce their risk of involvement in fatal accidents by understanding what is causing crashes and modifying their own driving behavior each time they get behind the wheel.
The Tragic Math of Fatal Crashes in Illinois
There were 1,082 automobile accident fatalities recorded in 2016. This is the first time since 2008 when the annual number of fatalities rose above 1,000. That year, 1,043 fatalities were recorded. The trend in Illinois is rising in line with accident fatality rates across the country. Nationwide, there were 38,300 fatalities recorded in 2015 which represented an 8% increase in the number of fatalities from 2014. This was the fastest increase recorded over the past 50 years.
What's Causing the Crashes?
There are many factors fueling the increase in fatalities. For starters, more drivers in Illinois are getting behind the wheel and driving farther as the economy improves and gas prices remain low. Nationwide, drivers drove 1.7% more in 2016 than they did in 2015. Illinois has a fatality rate of 1 motorist for every 100 million miles of road traveled.
Drivers and passengers are also eschewing the use of seatbelts. In nearly 50% of fatalities, the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Not wearing a seatbelt is illegal, and it is a dangerous decision with potentially deadly consequences.
Drinking and driving also remains a critical problem in Illinois. Nearly 25% of the 1,082 fatality causing accidents recorded in Illinois in 2016 involved a drunk driver. Similarly, distracted driving is a growing problem. From 2009 to 2013, the state recorded more than 6,000 accidents where the driver was utilizing a cell phone at the time of the crash.
Drivers can have a considerable impact on their own personal risk. Driving cautiously, not talking on the phone, paying attention to the road, not drinking and driving, and buckling up are simple behavioral changes that can help prevent a crash and the potential for becoming the next statistic.