Chicagoland Personal Injury Law Blog

NHTSA: truck crash deaths rise in 2017, car crash deaths decrease

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its 2017 crash data, culled from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. It turns out that the number of people killed in traffic crashes went down from 37,806 in 2016 to 37,133 in 2017: a 1.8 percent decrease. The most positive difference was seen in the number of speeding-related deaths, down by 5.6 percent, and bicyclist deaths, down by 8.1 percent.

Passenger vehicle fatalities decreased by 1.4 percent while motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths saw a decline of 3.1 and 1.7 percent, respectively. Deaths from distracted driving crashes went down as well although they still made up 3,166, or 8.5 percent, of all deaths.

Car crash rates rise among always-connected mobile workforce

The 2018 Distracted Driving Report from Motus should be of interest to Illinois residents who are either part of a grey fleet or the operators of one. The mobile workforce is increasingly connected: in 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned a smartphone, but in 2017, that percentage rose to 77. At the same time, the number of auto accidents among mobile workers rose from 5.7 million in 2013 to 6.4 million in 2017.

Motus believes that there is a clear correlation. While smartphone use may not be the only source of distracted driving, it is a pivotal one. In 2017, Americans drove a total of 107 billion miles while distracted by their phones. Mobile workers drive more than any other type of employee, so they pose a special danger to others on the road. According to Motus calculations, mobile workers drive about 1,200 "distracted miles" every year. Smartphone use is especially common among them during the mornings and evenings, when they commute, but hits a peak between the hours of 2 pm and 4 pm.

Teen drivers may learn lessons from realistic experience programs

There are plenty of stats suggesting that teen drivers in Illinois are more likely to be involved in accidents involving personal injuries. This is why efforts are often made to help motorists under the age of 21 understand the consequences of risky driving behaviors. Results from a university study suggest that supplemental drivers' education programs that include realistic experiences like emergency room tours and visits to intensive care units increase awareness of the dangers of risky driving.

While results from the study are encouraging, a two-month follow-up failed to show any conclusive evidence as to whether or not the program had a significant impact on modifying behaviors behind the wheel. The study focused on a supplemental risk reduction program that included ER, ICU and morgue visits as well as a test covering topics such as DUI and distracted driving.

Illinois motorcyclist deaths go up, lack of helmet law to blame

While the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide went down 8.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, that number actually went up 5.2 percent in the same time span in Illinois. Preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that compared to 154 deaths in 2016, there were 162 reported deaths in 2017.

There are many factors that go into motorcycle accidents, such as operator error, hazards created by motorists, bad weather and the presence of wildlife. The Governors Highway Safety Association also points to alcohol. In a report covering motorcycle crashes in 2016, the GHSA found that riders were legally drunk in 25 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes.

Safe driving tips for Illinois residents

Safe driving may not make drivers completely immune from accidents, but it will certainly reduce potential risks. This is why the following tips should be considered and, when possible, implemented. The first tip for avoiding accidents is to maintain the vehicle for optimal handling and steering. For example, good tires and brakes can save one from a rear-end collision.

The next tip is to never engage in distracting activities like cell phone use, eating, reading, adjusting the radio and putting on makeup. Having a large number of passengers can also create distractions. When possible, drivers should avoid the road during rainy, windy or snowy weather. If they do, they should drive slower and consider turning on their headlights. Drinking and driving, even after one or two drinks, is not advisable. The same is true for fatigued driving.

Deadliest days for car accidents are not in the winter

If you made it through Thursday, August 2 without even getting in a fender bender out on the road, consider yourself lucky. Chances are many people on that day were not only in car accident, they lost their life in it. A new report showed that August 2 is the day where more people in the U.S. will likely be killed in a car accident, ahead of any other day of the year.

Most people would believe the worst days for car accident deaths would be during winter driving. However, that is not the case. The top two deadliest days for driving occurred in the heart of summer. That means there is a higher risk of dying in a car accident on a beautiful summer day than a snowy, cold New Year's Eve night. The numbers in the report are based on deadly crashes from 2012 to 2016 and reflect total fatalities during that time. Here are the five most deadly days out on the roads in the U.S.:

Data can result in proactive safety policies

Accidents that occur on Illinois roads could result in expensive vehicle repair and medical bills. They can also result in costs to employers if their vehicles were involved in such crashes. Research indicates that accidents caused by distracted drivers tend to be more serious than others. This is because someone who is looking at a phone may not slow down before colliding with another vehicle. However, data may be able to help reduce the odds of distracted driving.

For example, trucking companies can determine when a driver accelerates or brakes too hard. From there, a trainer could teach the driver how to avoid those situations in the future. Such an event could also cause a camera to go on to monitor the person operating the truck. This may help a fleet manager determine if a driver is hurt or otherwise putting him or herself in harm's way when behind the wheel.

Brake Safety Week coming to Illinois in September

This fall, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will hold Brake Safety Week in Illinois and across North America. During the initiative, which takes place Sept. 16-22, CVSA inspectors will check commercial vehicles for critical brake violations. Vehicles that fail inspections will be pulled from service.

According to the CVSA, poorly maintained or improperly installed brake components pose a serious public safety risk. In order to ensure brake systems are in good working condition, commercial vehicles must be routinely inspected. However, statistics show that trucking companies aren't always doing this. For example, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 32.7 percent of large trucks that had pre-crash violations had problems with their brake systems. The study also discovered that vehicles involved in brake-critical crashes were 50 percent more likely to have a brake violation than those that were involved in collisions where brakes were not a factor. Finally, brake violations were the No. 1 reason vehicles were pulled from service during the CVSA's 2017 International Roadcheck.

Deadly pedestrian accidents linked to driver distraction

For Illinois pedestrians, the consequences of distracted driving can be deadly. Both distracted driving and the number of pedestrian deaths due to motor vehicle accidents has been on the rise. While experts say that cars have become safer, the popularity of SUVs means that many vehicles sit higher on the road, potentially leading to more dangerous pedestrian impacts. In fact, pedestrian fatalities have shot up by 49 percent since 2009, which is well above the 11 percent increase in overall traffic fatalities.

Smartphones are perhaps the most well-known and common causes of distracted driving. Because these devices are now so ubiquitous, almost everyone has a smartphone that's ready to chime in with news of incoming text messages and emails. The allure of the devices can all too easily distract a driver's eyes and mind from the roadway, potentially leading to devastating and even fatal car crashes. In 2007, 17,851 people went to the emergency room across the United States in incidents related to mobile phone use. In 2016, that number grew to 32,755.

Drugs and alcohol create dangerous drivers

According to a 2016 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, 44 percent of drivers killed in car crashes tested positive for controlled substances. This figure was based in cases where test results were known for a driver. That is an increase of 16 percent over a period of 10 years. Of those who were on drugs when killed, 38 percent had marijuana in their system. Furthermore, 4 percent had both marijuana and opioids in their system.

It is believed that the lack of testing for drug impairment is one reason why drugged driving is becoming a larger problem. As different drugs have different effects on a person, it may not be possible to come up with a single comprehensive test. While drugged driving has become an increasingly common occurrence, the percentage of drivers killed in car accidents with alcohol in their bodies decreased. In 2016, 38 percent of drivers in fatal accidents were impaired by alcohol compared to 41 percent 10 years prior.

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