In an unfortunate reversal of current trends, data shows that the number of traffic fatalities rose in 2012 by 5.3% up to 34,080. This marks the first traffic fatality increase since 2005. As we reported, traffic deaths dropped almost two percent from 2010 to 2011.
The increase did not come as a surprise, however, to some experts, who had predicted an increase due to the fact that more people are taking to the roads as the economy improves. The Detroit News reported that the increase in traffic fatalities may have also been the result of unseasonably warm weather in early 2012.
The USA Today reports that preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased by 9.1 billion miles and the fatality rate (the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) is projected to rise to 1.16 from 1.10.
Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that the region with the biggest increase in traffic fatalities was the Northeast – including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut – which saw traffic fatalities in the region increase by more than 15%.
Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, expressed particular concern over the increasing traffic fatalities among motorcyclists. The Governors Highway Safety Association recently projected that about 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012, which would be 14.7% of overall traffic fatalities. This marks the highest percentage of motorcycle fatalities ever, and a 9% increase over the previous year.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland noted that the record number of motorcycle crashes raised the fatality rates in many states and noted that, without this increase, traffic fatalities would have remained at record lows. Harsha suggested universal helmet laws, which 31 states currently lack, and a more comprehensive strategy on what is necessary to keep motorcyclists safe.
Motorcyclists are urged to obey the following safety recommendations:
- Always wear a helmet. Although motorcyclists in Illinois are not required to wear helmets, the Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual strongly urges riders to use helmets that fit snugly, have no obvious defects, and meet U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to die from a head injury if in a motorcycle crash than a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet.
- Avoid tailgating and lane splitting. Lane splitting is the dangerous practice of moving between lanes of vehicles that are moving in the same direction but may be stopped or are moving slower than the motorcycle moving between them.
- Use caution when approaching road hazards. Road hazards can cause serious accidents for motorcycle riders. Some common road hazards include: railroad tracks and crossing areas, cattle guards, slippery car fluids, snow and ice, rain, gravel on pavement, objects in the roadway, and potholes.
- Obey posted speed limits and traffic signals.
- Wear protective clothing. Wear upper body clothing that includes bright colors or reflective materials so that other motorists can more easily see you. Illinois law requires motorcyclists to wear protective eye gear, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen.
Get the Traffic Accident Help You Need
If you or a loved one has been in a traffic accident – whether a minor accident or a catastrophic accident with serious injuries or deaths – it is important to consult with a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney to discuss your legal rights and remedies. At Ankin Law Office, LLC, our Chicago vehicle accident lawyers are committed to helping the victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents recover financially following a traffic collision.
Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago traffic fatality attorneys.