Illinois Road Accidents: DOT Paints a Stark Picture

Nestled in the Midwestern region of the US, Illinois is a vibrant state with its capital Springfield. Just like its innovative name, the state is known to have produced top-class intellectuals and trendsetters. 

Some of these examples include President Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, and Frank Lloyd Wright. As of 2024, the state’s total population stands at over 12 million with Chicago as the most populated city. 

As the sixth-largest state in the US in terms of population, it’s natural that millions of small and large vehicles frequent Illinois’ streets. In recent years, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has painted a grim picture of the state’s road safety. 

In this article, we will discuss this road safety situation along with new laws implemented by state officials. 

Rise in Road Crashes Across Illinois 

The Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) has revealed some latest trends in the state. As per its preliminary data, fatal road crashes across the state rose by 2.5% in 2023. In total, 1,179 deadly collisions occurred, an increase of 29 fatalities from the previous year. 

In certain Counties like Cook County, the fatality rates decreased compared to previous years. Others like Lake County saw their death statistics increase. These numbers do not even include the figures for non-fatal injury crashes. Certain Counties 

Causes and Outcomes 

In light of the stark road safety picture, citizens and officials alike are concerned. The process of curbing fatal crash-related deaths begins with the causes behind them. Listed below are some of the major causes behind Illinois’ road accidents –

  • Distracted driving – Anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the wheel, the road ahead, and their vicinity becomes a distraction. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common distractions include using a cell phone, eating, and operating a navigation system. 
  • Overspeeding – When an engine overruns its speed, the vehicle zips along faster than it is designed to. This increases the distance needed for a vehicle to stop and impairs the driver’s judgment of the road. 
  • Drunk driving – The Illinois DOT estimated that at least 47% of road crashes involved driver intoxication. Such instances are more frequent during night hours. 
  • Running red lights – Hasty drivers often attempt to rush past a traffic light that may have just turned red. This could again be a result of distraction. 
  • Reckless driving – In general, impatience and a desire to save time can make drivers reckless on the roads. Careless driving may include different factors like overspeeding, overtaking, cutting lanes quickly, etc. 
  • Inclement weather conditions – The southern part of the state receives higher precipitation and snowfall in general. Drivers in the south often face the problem of poor visibility, slick roads, and other weather-related issues that lead to crashes. 
  • Improper lane changes – Drivers are shifting from one lane to another too quickly. Moreover, many do not signal their move to other motorists on either side. Some examples of unsafe lane changes include cutting off another driver, crossing multiple lanes at the same time, and switching lanes without checking surrounding traffic. 

Whatever the causes may be, the outcomes can be dreadful. For instance – just a few days ago, two women sustained fatal injuries in a road crash in Edwardsville, Illinois. Both individuals were senior citizens, Delores Long (91) and Julie Schroeder (63). It was their Nissan Sentra that collided with a van whose passengers survived. 

This may be a unique case of age, but it led to a fatal crash nonetheless. In this case, those involved died or suffered minor injuries. Had all survived and the van’s passengers were severely injured, they would have to wage a tough legal battle. 

An Edwardsville personal injury lawyer would have to intervene and ensure fair compensation for the victims. Factors like the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s age, the severity of injuries, etc. would be considered for a settlement claim.

According to TorHoerman Law, some cases can be complex enough to drag on for months or years before a resolution is made. Given the reasons for Illinois road crashes discussed above, motorists must consider whether a few moments of distraction and recklessness are worth the trauma and hassle that may follow. 

Tackling the Age of Speed with Road Safety Measures 

We live in the age of speed where every area of life is marked by rush and haste. Attention spans are getting shorter, lives are getting busier, and as a result, roads are becoming deadlier. 

Thankfully, 2024 is bringing numerous road safety law changes for the state in general and its cities in particular. Let’s take a look at some of these –

  • Videoconferencing while driving will be strictly restricted. 
  • No motorbike licenses will be given to anyone under the age of 18 (with some exceptions). 
  • Auxiliary lights on motorcycles must not produce any blue light that blinds the oncoming vehicles. 
  • The DOT is developing a mobile application that will inform motorists about the latest road conditions.

Besides, random checking for driver intoxication (especially during the wee hours) may become commonplace. Drivers are encouraged to follow all traffic rules without fail. Despite the strictest measures, every driver’s life is in their hands to a large extent.

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