U.S. Traffic Deaths Highest Since 2007

The National Safety Counsel reported today that there were 40,200, a 6 percent gain from 2015 and up 14 percent from 2014. This is the first time since 2007 that traffic fatalities exceeded 40,000 in U.S.

As I wrote last month, this is a disturbing trend due advances in auto safety technology that has been introduced in the last ten years. The increase in traffic deaths have been previously blamed on more drivers being on the road due to an improved economy. I believe that this was a legitimate hypothesis for 2012 through 2014 but it doesn’t explain why number keeps increasing.

As I previously discussed last month, the only conclusion I can come to is that people continue to use their phones while behind the wheel. The The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group,  released survey that support this conclusion. Their survey findings showed that 47 percent of motorists are comfortable texting while driving. Some 10 percent of drivers reported driving drunk, and 43 percent of them were involved in a crash while impaired, the group said. The survey also found that 16 percent said they don’t wear seatbelts on every trip, while 25 percent are comfortable speeding on residential streets.

To stem the tide, the group renewed a call for a total ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, even hands-free systems. It also called for mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, a three-tiered driver licensing system for all new drivers under 21 and other steps to curb car crashes.

I can’t say that I agree with the ban on hands free devices, but I am still convinced that there needs to be stiffer penalties on those who text and drive. This is especially true when the phone use results in a car crash that results in a personal injury.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.


NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Up 8% In 2016

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced some unfortunate news in a press release last week that traffic fatalities were up 8% last year from the year before for the first nine months of each year. The agency’s statistical projection found an estimated 27,875 people died in vehicle accidents during that time in 2016, while 25,808 fatalities were reported for that same period in 2015. Also, the fatality rate for 2016’s first nine months increased to 1.15 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That represents an increase from 1.10 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during the first nine months of 2015. The agency noted it relied on the same methodology used to generate the estimates for the first nine months of 2016 as it did to record the fatalities for 2015.

The various articles I have read don’t seem to point any specific reason why. The discouraging news is that these numbers are coming off a year where traffic deaths increased 7% in 2015 over 2014. Experts believe the increased travel is mostly a result of an improved economy and low gas prices. But NHTSA’s data experts said increased travel and a better economy alone can’t explain the rise in deaths. “We still have to figure out what is underlying those lives lost,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “If it was simple, we would already know that.”

The increase in deaths is especially concerning because it has happened at time when cars are safer than ever. Nearly all new cars and light trucks now have electronic stability control and rearview cameras, for example. Automakers are also beginning to equip more cars with sophisticated safety technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency-braking and blind-spot monitoring.

So what is the answer? The NHTSA isn’t giving us any plausible explanation. My own theory is that people continue to use their phones when driving. They continue to text and not take advantage of hands-free technology. I think this will continue to be the case as long as the penalties for texting and driving are weak. In my opinion, if an injury occurs from an accident where texting and driving was the cause, then the case needs to be treated like a DUI. At the very least the driver needs to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Without significant repercussions, drivers will not be deterred from typing on their phones while driving. This is the only explanation I can come up with as to why traffic fatalities have continued to rise the last two years.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.


National Safety Council Reports Traffic Deaths Up In 2015

The National Safety Council announced last week that traffic fatalities are up 14% so far this year and that injuries related to traffic accidents are up 33%.

The Council has deduced that a robust economy and lower gas prices have put more people on the road, which in turn leads to more car accidents. If the trend continues, traffic deaths this year could exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, when there were nearly 44,000 deaths.

The Council did note that in recent years drunk driving fatalities have dropped about 20%, teen car accidents are down and seat belt use is up. The question remains is whether the increase in fatalities is due solely on a booming economy and low gas prices? The Council believed this is the main reason, but also blames the increase in speed limits in many states along with the continued number of distracted drivers. Despite multiple distracted driving campaigns on the state and federal level, more people are taking cell phone calls and texting on their phones while driving.

So we have the most amount of drivers on the road since 2007 plus more people using their cell phones while driving at faster rates. This is a dangerous combination which has led to this increase in traffic deaths. Like I have written numerous times in the past, until states stiffen the penalties for texting and driving, we will not see the numbers of traffic fatalities and serious traffic injuries drop.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Car Accidents In Illinois Are On The Rise

The Chicago Tribune reported this week a wealth of statewide traffic accident statistics. Although the number of traffic fatalities in Illinois is down from last year, the number of overall crashes remains high and has state officials worried since there has been an increase of auto accident lawyer firms being hired for  legal representation. There have been on average, 782 car crashes per day in Illinois this year. This is the highest rate since 2008. State officials are citing that post-recession traffic along with the drop in gas prices has led to the high number of car accidents. With the increase in accidents there has also been an increase for the need of car repairs at collision center shops. These repairs got from auto glass repair to an extensive collision repair.

Despite the increase in car crashes, state officials are pleased to report that traffic fatalities are on the decline.  “If the provisional numbers for 2014 hold up, we could have the lowest number of fatalities in Illinois in several decades,” said Guy Tridgell, an IDOT spokesman in Chicago. “We are confident that we will have fewer than 1,000 motor-vehicle fatalities in Illinois for the fifth consecutive year. Just 10 years ago, we were well over 1,300.”

State safety officials said the installation of more guardrails, barrier systems and rumble strips on roads, along with recently enacted traffic laws, are all having a positive impact. This year, for example, it became illegal for drivers in Illinois to use electronic devices unless they are hands-free.

Poor decision making remains a constant cause of traffic accidents. Almost a third of the crashes involved driving at a high rate of speed, while another third are alcohol related.

One statistic that was not mentioned in the article or by state officials is the number of car crashes related to cell phone and hand held device usage. I would like to see what the number of car crashes are related to distracted drivers. Although I have been impressed with the Illinois Legislature’s effort to curb distracted driving – – and I have written so in the past – – I would still like to see stiffer penalties for those charged with texting and driving which results in a death or serious injury. Although the increase in traffic due to the improved economy is definitely a factor, I strongly believe texting and driving has to be another reason we are seeing an increase in traffic accidents in Illinois.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Traffic Deaths Down In 2009

The Chicago Sun Times reported good news for Illinois motorists today. There were 112 fewer traffic deaths in Illinois in 2009 than the year before.

The results mean that not only has IDOT met its Save 100 Campaign goal of cutting down the number of accident-related deaths by 100, but it is also the first time since 1921 that Illinois has recorded fewer than 1,000 traffic fatalities in a year, IDOT said.

IDOT and the Illinois State Police officially announced Operation Save 100 in November, but IDOT has been working with local law enforcement agencies and community advocates all year to coordinate efforts to save lives.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” IDOT Division of Traffic Safety Director Michael Stout said. “It tells me that the programs are working and our partners are working.”

Several reasons were listed  as to why  2009 turned out to be a safer year on Illinois roads. He listed an increase in seat belt usage — 92 percent compliance recently, up from between 70 and 80 percent a few years ago. He also mentioned fewer people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and the advent of the graduated driver’s license program for teens.

It will be interested to see if this number continues to go down in 2010 with all of the new traffic law intact.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an Illinois car accident or Illinois truck accident, then call Attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.