We know that more people are dying in fatal traffic accidents now than they have in over a decade. What’s happening?
2016 Deadliest Year in a Decade for Traffic Deaths
The National Safety Council’s preliminary findings for 2016 show a big jump in fatality rates. It’s predicted that the final tallies will be even higher. Experts are predicting final 2016 results to have a ten percent (10%) increase (or higher) in a twelve month period. Some are calling this issue a public epidemic.
Illinois is among the top ten states recording the most fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2016 according to the National Safety Council findings. (Illinois comes in at number 8, with 1087 traffic deaths.)
“Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true. The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.”
One possible explanation: the increase of distracted driving and drivers using their phones while driving. No one knows for sure, of course. This means lots of studies are being done to try and figure out why things are more dangerous for drivers today.
Deadliest Driving Conditions by State
Recently, the Auto Insurance Center (AIC) published its study of data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) fatal accident reporting system. Its findings reveal the driving conditions that are most likely to cause a fatal traffic accident in each state.
Fatal Traffic Accident Research Data Maintained by NHTSA
NHTSA keeps a record of motor vehicle traffic accidents in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). This is data pertaining to crashes involving cars, minivans, Sport Utility Vehicles, and other kinds of personal vehicles.
What are the Deadliest Driving Conditions Facing American Drivers?
According to the AIC study, using NTHSA numbers, most fatal car crashes can be attributed to a handful of causes. They are:
- distracted driving;
- road rage;
- drunk driving;
- aggressive driving; and
- adverse weather.
Indiana: Number One in the Country for Road Rage Fatalities
However, these dangers vary state by state. For instance, Indiana was the top state in the nation with fatal accidents caused by road rage.
So much so, that Indiana had almost twice as many fatal road rage accidents as the number two state for road rage deaths, South Carolina.
What is road rage?
WebMD explains: “Road rage, defined by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety as “any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety,” includes cutting people off, hitting one car with another, running someone off the road, and shooting or physically assaulting other drivers or passengers.”
Illinois: Fourth Biggest Increase in Reckless Crash Deaths in a Decade
The study also compared how things fared in each state, year after year, in traffic deaths. Illinois traffic fatalities jumped 105.4% in the number of deaths caused by reckless and careless driving. This includes accidents caused by speeding, failing to wear safety belts, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Only three states (North Carolina, Colorado, and Michigan) saw a higher percentage increase in reckless traffic fatalities than Illinois over the same time period.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving involves a criminal violation. It’s against the law. Reckless driving is defined in the criminal statutes of Illinois, 625 ILCS 5/11-503, which explains Reckless Driving as:
(a) A person commits reckless driving if he or she:
(1) drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or
(2) knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, except as provided under subsections (b-1), (c), and (d) of this Section.
(b-1) Except as provided in subsection (d), any person convicted of violating subsection (a), if the violation causes bodily harm to a child or a school crossing guard while the school crossing guard is performing his or her official duties, is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
(c) Every person convicted of committing a violation of subsection (a) shall be guilty of aggravated reckless driving if the violation results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Section, aggravated reckless driving is a Class 4 felony.
(d) Any person convicted of violating subsection (a), if the violation causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to a child or a school crossing guard while the school crossing guard is performing his or her official duties, is guilty of aggravated reckless driving. Aggravated reckless driving under this subsection (d) is a Class 3 felony.
Deadliest Roads and Highways in Indiana and Illinois
Nationally, Indiana and Illinois are not ranked as having the most dangerous interstates with the highest death rates. That goes to heavy-traffic interstates like I-10 that routes through Florida, for instance.
However, there are some high risk and very dangerous roadways in our part of the country. These are extremely dangerous stretches of highways and interstates where the risk of a fatal traffic accident is high.
1. U.S. 24 (Toledo, Ohio — Fort Wayne, Indiana)
This highway has been deemed “treacherous” by Conde Nast Traveler and included in its “Highway to the Danger Zone! 10 of the Scariest Roads in America.” Popular Mechanics calls the entire US 24 roadway “the killway.”
2. Interstate 70
AAA considers I-70 to be very dangerous. It moves through Illinois and Indiana, connecting travelers from Utah to the East Coast.
3. Interstate 80
AAA also warns drivers of the dangers of driving I-80. This interstate highway traverses both Indiana and Illinois as it connects California with New Jersey.
Illinois’ La Grange road ramp on I-80 is considered one of the deadliest parts of the roadway, with over 50 accidents at that one exit ramp per year.
Fatal Car Crashes Can Be Prevented
There are personal injury laws as well as wrongful death statutes that help victims of traffic accidents in Indiana and Illinois find justice for what they have suffered. Families (spouses, children) can also seek legal redress for the tragedy of a fatal car accident.
Knowing how serious these accidents can be, how horrific and how devastating for so many people, it is vital that we all know how serious the risk is for taking the wheel here in Indiana and Illinois. The risk of a serious or fatal motor vehicle accident is high in our part of the country.
Let’s educate and warn our loved ones. Let’s be aware of dangers like road rage risk and deadly intersections. Please be careful out there!