What are some of the top causes of car crashes in Illinois?

Negligent driver behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving rank among top causes of car accidents in Illinois.

Each year, car accidents upend the lives of thousands of people in Illinois. Just in 2014, over 296,000 crashes occurred throughout the state, leading to 84,652 injuries and 924 deaths, as the Illinois Department of Transportation reports. Sadly, local data shows that a large proportion of these accidents involve unnecessary and reckless behaviors on the part of at least one of the involved motorists.

Driver intoxication

In 2014, 30.4 percent of all fatal crashes reported in Illinois involved alcohol impairment. These alcohol-related accidents may be especially common during the holiday season. In 2014, half of all fatal accidents that occurred on Christmas Eve or during the following four days involved alcohol. During New Year's Eve and the next four days, half of the reported traffic deaths also involved alcohol use.

When the use of prescription or illicit drugs is taken into account, even more of the accidents that take place in Illinois may involve driver impairment. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, nationally, about 7 percent of drivers who play a role in fatal crashes have marijuana in their systems. Additionally, roadside surveys suggest drugged driving is common, with more than one out of five drivers testing positive for legal or illicit substances.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving has become a top cause of car crashes, injuries and deaths in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation state that in 2014, 431,000 injuries and 3,179 deaths across the country resulted from distracted driving crashes.

Experts believe distracted driving is behind a rise in traffic deaths that has occurred across the country and been especially evident here in Illinois. Per The Chicago Tribune, from 2014 to 2015, national traffic fatalities increased at a higher rate than they have in decades. Illinois saw an even greater year-to-year jump, with deaths rising 12 percent in 2015 and 2016. Much of this change is attributed to the increased prevalence of distracted driving.

Speeding

Speeding is also a common factor in car accidents in Illinois. IDOT data reveals that more than one-third of overall accidents, injury crashes and fatal car wrecks are speed-related. Speeding unavoidably raises the risk of accidents due to all of the following factors:

· At higher speeds, a driver's control over the vehicle is reduced.

· A speeding car covers more distance in a given length of time, which diminishes a driver's reaction time.

· Higher travel speeds necessitate larger stopping distances, and this also reduces the time that a driver has to respond.

Speed-related accidents also tend to be more catastrophic, since deformation of the vehicle and injuries to occupants become more likely as speed increases. Sadly, in 2014, speeding played a role in over one-quarter of all traffic fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Taking legal action

People who have suffered harm because other motorists engaged in any of these needless actions may have legal recourse. To protect their rights, victims or their loved ones may benefit from discussing the circumstances and potential next steps with an attorney.