How distracted driving fuels a surge in traffic deaths in Illinois

This article looks at why distracted driving is helping fuel recent spikes in traffic deaths in Illinois.

Traffic fatalities in Illinois are surging and both police and safety experts say distracted driving is largely to blame. As the Chicago Tribune reports, traffic fatalities in Illinois increased by a staggering 12 percent during the first half of 2016, well ahead of the national average. Many of those fatal car accidents are being attributed to distracted driving, especially from the use of electronic devices, such as smartphones. Studies show that using an electronic device while driving has become pervasive on Illinois' roads despite tough new laws designed to crack down on the problem.

Traffic deaths in Illinois

The National Safety Council says that nationwide road deaths increased eight percent in 2015 - which is the largest year-on-year increase in half a century - and by nine percent during the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period last year. While those figures are certainly bad, in Illinois the situation is even worse. The state has seen a 12 percent increase in traffic fatalities both during the first half of this year and for all of last year.

Those increases reverse a long-term downward trend in traffic fatalities. Over the past few decades traffic deaths generally went down as air bags, better car engineering, increased seatbelt usage, and lower rates of drunken driving all helped make driving safer. Many experts, however, say that with the rise of smartphones those safety advances are being cancelled out by the dangers posed by distracted driving.

Making distracted driving taboo

As NBC Chicago reports, distracted driving has become disturbingly common in recent years. One AT&T survey, for example, found that 61 percent of respondents admit to texting and driving, while about a third of respondents say they have emailed while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also estimates that about one-fifth of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted drivers.

Laws and penalties against texting and driving have increased in Illinois in recent years. However, safety experts caution that tough new laws, while welcome, can only go so far. What is desperately needed is a change in societal attitudes towards distracted driving. Those same experts note that only when distracted driving becomes taboo and socially unacceptable like drunk driving has will big reductions in distracted driving accidents become possible.

Personal injury law

An accident can be devastating for victims and their families. Not only are such accidents highly traumatic, but they can also lead to serious financial hardship in the form of medical bills, vehicle repair, therapy, lost income, and so on. Financial compensation can offer a lifeline for those struggling with the financial fallout of an accident. A personal injury attorney can assist accident victims with the claims process and help clients pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to receive from the accident.