Despite rising traffic fatalities, some want increase to speed limit

As traffic fatalities in Illinois continue to rise, a proposal to increase speed limits is raising alarms.

Traffic fatalities are soaring in Illinois and across the country. As the Chicago Tribune reports, both U.S. and Illinois traffic fatalities increased by six percent last year, with an increase in traffic, distracted driving, and speeding all being singled out as important factors behind those increases. Despite those alarming figures, a bill has been put forward in the Senate to increase the speed limit on interstates outside of Chicago from 70 mph to 75 mph. That proposal has led to alarm among safety experts who say that increasing speeds increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident causing death or serious injury.

Soaring traffic fatalities

For the second year in a row, traffic fatalities increased substantially both across the U.S. and in Illinois. The National Safety Council estimates that 40,200 people died on the nation's highways last year, the first time there have been more than 40,000 traffic fatalities in a decade. In the past two years, nationwide traffic fatalities have increased at a faster rate than during any other two-year period since the 1960s. In Illinois, traffic fatalities have increased a dramatic 18 percent in the past two years, well above the national average.

Much of the increase is being blamed on distracted driving. Although officially the number of U.S. deaths caused by distracted driving is 3,000, most safety experts suspect the true figure is much higher because it can be difficult to prove whether or not a driver was actually distracted just prior to an accident. In fact, some estimates say that distracted driving could be responsible for more than half of all traffic fatalities.

Increased speed limits

Despite the fact that traffic fatalities are rising and drivers are more distracted than ever before, a proposal has been put forward to actually increase speed limits in Illinois. A bill currently being debated by the Senate would increase the speed limit on rural interstates to 75 mph, according to the Peoria Journal Star. It would also increase the speed limit on rural routes with less than four lanes of traffic and which are not interstates from 55 to 60 mph. Illinois already increased the interstate speed limit from 65 to 70 mph in 2014.

The proposal to increase speed limits again has been met with criticism by many traffic safety experts. While it is debatable whether or not increasing speed limits actually increases the number of accidents that happen, what is proven is that accidents that happen at higher speeds are much more likely to result in death and serious injuries. Furthermore, with so many people driving while distracted, increasing the speed limit seems like a particularly risky move at the moment.

Personal injury law

Driving, unfortunately, is becoming more dangerous, both in Illinois and nationwide. Anybody who has been hurt in a car accident should get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients navigate their legal options in the aftermath of an accident, including by helping them make claims for any financial compensation that they may be entitled to.