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Despite a drop in the number of people killed in traffic accidents in 2022, Illinois road users may still be in more danger of being in a motor vehicle crash compared to many years in the past. The drop in fatalities was less than 1% compared to 2021, but that year had the highest rates for 16 years. There was also a very minor drop in the fatality rate relative to vehicle miles traveled, from 1.37 to 1.35 per 100 million vehicle miles. This was true despite the fact that more people in general were driving in 2022 compared to 2021.

Distracted driving remains a problem

In 2021, traffic fatalities in which speeding was a factor increased by nearly 8% while drunk driving-related accidents increased by more 14%. The rates of accidents related to distracted driving increased as well.

Efforts that are being made

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has been working to reduce the number of accidents and crashes, but those numbers need to come down substantially before they are in line with earlier years. In response to the high number of crashes, the NHTSA has introduced a number of initiatives intended for use in areas where traffic accidents are common. For example, in Philadelphia, there has been an effort to make roads safer for pedestrians.

One challenge the NHTSA faces is that it can be difficult to assess how many motor vehicle accidents are due to distracted driving since this often relies on self-reporting. Another is that it is not uncommon for people to recognize the danger of certain actions that cause distraction, such as talking on a cell phone or texting, but to continue with the behavior anyway.

However, the small reduction in accidents in 2022 does give some cause for hope that the trends of 2021 can be reversed, particularly with more targeted efforts from safety advocates and agencies. Driver awareness is an important tool in continuing to bring those numbers down and make the roads safer for everyone.

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