Bucking a national trend, Illinois traffic deaths rise in 2017

Illinois traffic deaths are rising in Illinois, likely due to weak helmet laws and an increase in the speed limit.


After a number of years of alarming increases in the national traffic fatality rate, a recent report by the National Safety Council shows that U.S. traffic deaths are finally going down in 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, one notable exception to this hopeful trend is Illinois, where fatal motor vehicle accidents continued to climb during the first six months of 2017. Safety experts say that two reasons likely lie behind the still-rising death toll in Illinois: the state's lack of a helmet law for motorcyclists and a recent increase in speed limits.

Illinois traffic deaths defy trend

The National Safety Council report looked at traffic fatalities across the country during the first six months of 2017. The report concluded that nationwide traffic fatalities decreased by one percent compared to the same period last year, although nationwide traffic deaths are still up by eight percent compared to 2015.

In Illinois traffic fatalities increased by four percent, from 494 during the first half of 2016 to 516 during the first half of 2017. Illinois traffic fatalities are also up by 17 percent compared to the first six months of 2015, which is more than double the rate they have risen by nationwide. It also means that while there is hope that nationwide traffic deaths are finally starting to turn a corner, the same cannot be said for Illinois traffic deaths.

Helmet and speed laws

The reason why roads and highways continue to be particularly deadly in Illinois may be down to a few factors. Safety experts point out that Illinois is one of just three states that does not have a motorcycle helmet law, meaning that motorcyclist fatalities are more likely to turn fatal in Illinois. However, as WTTW News reports, the other two states that don't have any motorcycle helmet laws - Iowa and New Hampshire - actually saw a decrease in traffic fatalities this year. That suggests something else must be going on to explain why traffic deaths are increasing in Illinois.

One likely culprit is higher speed limits. Illinois is one of a number of states that has increased speed limits on interstate highways in recent years. In 2014, the speed limit on interstate highways in rural areas of the state went up from 65 mph to 70 mph. An increase in the speed limit not only means that accidents are more likely to happen, but that when they do they are also more likely to be deadly.

Personal injury law

For anybody who has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, confronting challenges like medical care, physical therapy, lost income, and vehicle repair can feel daunting. However, a personal injury attorney can help. An experienced attorney can show accident victims what type of compensation they may be entitled to and can assist them with making an effective claim.