Distracted driving leads to another deadly year in Illinois

Illinois traffic deaths are closing in on 1,000 for 2016 and distracted driving is the main culprit.

Traffic fatalities are up in Illinois and look set to exceed 1,000 by the end of the year, according to CBS Chicago. The alarming increase in fatalities, which will mark the first time they have exceeded 1,000 since 2009, is a sign of the dangers of distracted driving. While analysts say that low gas prices and an improving economy are undoubtedly major factors in the increasing number of deaths, they also point out that the explosive growth in both mobile and in-car technologies in recent years has made distracted driving accidents far too common on both Illinois' and the nation's roads and highways.

Traffic fatalities are surging

As of November 29 there had been 983 traffic fatalities in Illinois, which was close to 100 more than were recorded at that same point in 2015. That means that, with more than a month left in the year, Illinois is almost guaranteed to see traffic fatalities exceed 1,000 this year, this first time that has happened since 2009 when 1,039 people died in traffic accidents. In 2015 there were already signs of the increasing number of fatalities, with 998 people dying on Illinois' roads and highways.

The increase is hardly unique to Illinois. As the New York Times reports, traffic fatalities are surging throughout the country. In the first six months of 2016, for example, deaths on the nation's highways went up by 10.4 percent compared to the same period in 2015. That dramatic increase came after many decades of declines that had made roads and highways much safer.

Distracted driving to blame

Many analysts are pointing to the fact that gas prices have been falling and that the economy has been improving in recent years, both of which encourage people to be in their cars for longer and more often. However, previous upticks in the economy have not led to the sort of dramatic jumps in traffic fatalities that are now on display.

For many traffic safety experts, what makes the recent surge in deaths unique is the role that distracted driving is playing. Smartphone technology has made it possible for drivers to surf the internet, check social media, and text friends all while driving. These behaviors are incredibly dangerous when on the road. In-car infotainment systems, meanwhile, are also contributing to the problem, despite often being marketed as a safer alternative to using a smartphone.

Personal injury law

Distracted driving has become a huge problem on Illinois' roads in recent years. Anybody who has been injured in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver should know that help is at hand. A personal injury attorney can assist accident victims in their pursuit of justice, including by showing them how they may be able to pursue financial compensation to help mitigate the costs of their accident.