Traffic deaths in Illinois have exceeded 1,000 in 2016 and higher speed limits may be partly to blame.
As 2016 comes to a close, law enforcement and safety experts are calling it a bad year for traffic safety in Illinois. That's because, as WREX News reports, 2016 was the first time since 2009 that traffic fatalities in the state exceeded the 1,000 mark. While higher numbers of fatal traffic accidents are something that has been seen nationwide over the past year, the situation in Illinois is particularly troubling. Although lower gas prices and an improving economy are partly to blame, safety experts also point out that higher speed limits and less enforcement of those speed limits may also be playing a role in Illinois.
Traffic fatalities in 2016
As of December 26 there had been 1,048 traffic fatalities in the state. That means that 2016 is already the first time since 2009 when traffic fatalities broke the 1,000 mark. At the same point last year there had been 974 traffic fatalities, while by the end of the year there had been a total of 998 traffic deaths for 2015. That means that 2016 is likely to see more than 1,050 traffic deaths by the time 2017 arrives.
Granted, Illinois is not unique in terms of traffic fatalities rising this year. In fact, traffic deaths have been trending upwards nationwide in 2016. Safety experts say the biggest culprits in the nationwide uptick are lower gas prices and an improving economy. With peoples' livelihoods improving and the cost of driving decreasing, that means that more people are able to drive more often, which in turn increases the chances of more accidents occurring.
Speeding danger in Illinois
One factor that is partly unique in Illinois, however, is the role that speeding plays in overall traffic fatalities. In 2014, the speed limits on rural interstates in Illinois were increased by 5 mph from 65 to 70 mph. As the Peoria Journal Star points out, states that have higher speed limits also tend to have more traffic fatalities. That's because accidents that occur at higher speeds are much more likely to result in fatalities and serious injuries than those that occur at lower speeds.
The problem is compounded by the fact that enforcement of the speed limits has also been reduced. In 2010, for example, Illinois State Police issued close to 212,000 speeding citations. In 2016, however, police are on pace to issue just 104,000 speeding tickets. Safety experts say that the fewer citations is not because drivers are slowing down, but because there are fewer officers to enforce the limits.
Personal injury law
An accident can cause both physical and emotional devastation for those involved. In addition to the trauma of being in an accident, victims will often have to contend with the financial difficulties that their recovery often poses. A personal injury attorney can help. By reaching out to an experienced attorney today, accident victims will have an advocate on their side fighting for whatever compensation they may be entitled to.