The number of Americans dying in traffic accidents is on the rise. Fatalities totaled 37,461 in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), a 5.6 percent increase over 2015, and following an 8.4 percent increase in 2014. Over the two-year period, traffic fatalities were up 14.6 percent.
The numbers are even worse for Illinois, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation. After 924 traffic fatalities in 2014 and 998 in 2015, the state’s roadways saw 1,078 deaths in 2016. That’s a 16.7 percent increase over the same two-year period.
One of the reasons is that Americans are driving more miles. But some experts also blame distracted driving. Motorists who are texting and talking on their phones are the most obvious examples. Another area of growing concern is the wide range of infotainment systems that are available on the newest vehicles, which provide additional distractions for drivers. These range from drivers watching videos and playing games to searching for their favorite music and engaging in social media. Even navigation systems, which are supposed to provide a convenience to drivers, can take their attention away from the road.
Distracted driving is shockingly common
A recent Consumer Reports survey of licensed drivers who own a smartphone found their hands were not always on the wheel: 41 percent use their hands to send a text, 37 percent to play music on a smartphone, and 20 percent to access a web browser or to compose, send, or read email. Shockingly, 8 percent said they watch videos on their phone while driving.
What can be done? Illinois has had a ban on the use of hand-held devices while driving since 2014. The state has employed public safety campaigns about distracted driving. Technology, including the ability to block texts, is available to increase safety for all drivers.
Yet with infotainment systems growing in popularity, it’s reasonable to assume that the number of fatal accidents will increase. Why? Because some people ignore the fact that their top priority is to drive safely.
Sadly, there is little you can do to protect yourself from distracted drivers. You have no way of knowing when someone composing a text is going to run a red light and collide with your vehicle. In an instant, you become an innocent victim. Your car could be damaged beyond your repair. You or family members could be injured, out of work for an extended period and requiring extensive therapy. At worst, you are left to cope with the loss of a loved one. At the same time, your medical bills are piling up and insurance companies are pressuring you to settle any claims.
That’s where the Illinois auto accident attorneys at Coplan & Crane come in. We have experience handling distracted driving cases just like yours in Oak Park, Chicago and statewide. Call (708) 866-1043 or toll free at (877) 673-2190, or schedule a free case evaluation online.