Have you noticed that there seem to be more accidents on the sides of Illinois highways and roads recently? As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I am acutely aware of what is going on out on our roadways. Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of accidents. Maybe it was the bad weather. Surfaces were frozen and slippery longer. Maybe its because now that the world has thawed there is construction everywhere altering traffic patterns everywhere. Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that there are more accidents on Illinois roads then there were last year.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently released a study reported on in the Chicago Tribune article entitled “Traffic accidents on the rise in state, to almost 800 a day.” The study results were from 2013, the year most recently studied by the Department. In short, there were 782 accidents per day in the State of Illinois in 2013. 782! Its no wonder that insurance premiums are so expensive. Most of those accidents are fender benders not involving significant injuries however the cost in property damage alone is staggering let alone paying for medical bills and compensating victims for their pain and suffering. The National Safety Council estimated that the cost of all those accidents was $5.7 billion – with a “B” – dollars.
Of note from the statistics is that in 2014, nearly 900 people were killed in those accidents with nearly one-half of the deaths occurring in Cook County, Illinois. 130 of those victims were killed in the City of Chicago.
What causes so many accidents? Again, weather conditions are partially at fault but so is human error. Approximately one-third of all the accidents were caused by excessive speed and another one-third were caused by alcohol. Deer were responsible interestingly for five percent of crashes – we do get a lot of calls from motorcyclists who got in accidents caused by deer (and occasionally a Moose or other animal). Tractor trailers were involved in four percent of all accidents and a high percentage (10%) of fatalities. Only two percent of all accidents were vehicle-pedestrian and only one percent was vehicle-bicycle (3,586 in 2013 resulting in 30 cyclists dying). The other group primarily responsible for accidents were teens between 16-19 years old who accounted for ten percent of severe injuries and seven percent of fatalities.