Highway crash fatalities down in Illinois in last half of 2012

We’ve covered many fatal accidents in the Chicago area on our wrongful death blog. To our readers, and others who keep up with local news, it may seem like fatal accidents happen frequently in our region. And while it’s certainly true that there are far too many deaths related to fatal motor vehicle accidents, a recent report from the Chicago Tribune shows that the number of fatal highway crashes actually declined in the last six months of 2012.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that from July 5 through the end of 2012, the number of fatal accidents dropped slightly compared to the same period in 2011. There were 500 deaths in the second half of 2011 and 478 in the second half of 2012. The state transportation secretary has pointed to increased awareness as a possible factor in the decline.

Starting July 5, electronic message boards on the highways started to display to drivers the roadway death toll that year. The signs were updated every day. The state has also used social media to help promote safe driving.

Despite the improvement in the fatality rate later in the year, however, the road accident fatality rate for the first half of 2012 was substantially higher than the same period in 2011, making last year’s death toll higher than 2011’s. Last year there were 957 crash fatalities compared to 918 in 2011. Chicago’s car accident fatality rate also went up. There were 109 fatal crashes in the city in 2011 and 130 fatal crashes last year.

While the fatality rate improved slightly in the second half of last year, the data still shows that car accidents remain a serious problem in Illinois. While the Tribune’s report did not cover causes of the accidents, many fatal accidents are due to negligent driving, whether that means drunk driving, texting and driving or speeding. When a negligent driver causes a crash fatality, that driver can be held responsible through a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help guide a grieving family through the process that can help provide a sense of closure as well as help the family cover funeral expenses and other costs related to losing a loved one.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Fatal highway crashes dip in second half of 2012,” Jon Hilkevitch, Jan. 7, 2013