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What’s behind last year’s rise in fatal crashes in Illinois?

Could a healthy economy contribute to a rise in traffic fatalities? It could be one factor, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Officials are looking at a recent concerning trend in the state: While traffic fatalities were down approximately 2 percent nationwide last year over the previous year, they rose by that amount in Illinois.

In 2017, 1,100 people lost their lives in crashes on Illinois roads. That’s the highest number in over a decade and put our state at eighth in the country in fatal accidents last year.

State agencies, including IDOT, are looking for ways to decrease that number. A campaign called “Life or Death Illinois” focuses in part on the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving. A spokesman for IDOT acknowledges, “The challenge for us and for law enforcement is that’s often the hardest behavior to enforce.”

Another contributor to the rise in fatal crashes, ironically, is last year’s relatively mild winter. That’s because people are more likely to drive when they don’t have to deal with snow, ice, wind and subzero temperatures. More people on the roads can mean more accidents.

Another factor, according to the IDOT spokesperson, is the economic recovery the state has been experiencing. He says, “In general terms, when you have an economy that’s doing well and gas prices are lower, you tend to see an increase in crashes and fatalities, just because more people are driving.”

He adds, though, “The vast majority of these accidents are avoidable. They’re the result of making wrong decisions behind the wheel.”

If you’re injured in a crash with a driver who has made one or more bad decisions, like texting while driving or engaging in other negligent behaviors, you have a right to seek the compensation you need and deserve. This can help you deal with medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost income and other damages. An experienced attorney can help you build a solid case.