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NHTSA: Highway Deaths in Illinois, USA at Historic Lows

Odds of being killed in a crash are 1 for every 100 million miles traveled.
WASHINGTON -- Credit whatever reason you want -- highway design, vehicle design, airbags, seat belt laws, DUI awareness and enforcement -- the result has been that the United States including Illinois and Wisconsin is seeing what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says is a "historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years."

NHTSA reports that in the first half of 2013, there was just 1.06 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled.  Not only is that number right at historical lows, but NHTSA reports that, "This is a pattern that has continued through the reported totals for 2011 that show deaths at a 60-year low. In fact, fatalities declined by about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011."

Illinois is even safer than the national average, with just 0.89 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2011, the last year for which the data is available for states.  Wisconsin was slightly over the national average at 1.07.  Where crashes occur appears to have an impact.  Highway deaths in Illinois' top 10 most populated counties have increased slightly over the past 5 years, but that has been more than offset by a decrease in fatalities in the rest of the state.

The agency did report a spike in vehicle-releated deaths in the first quarter of 2012, but reported the majority of the increase was in pedestrian and motorcycle related deaths.  The most common type of deadly crash was a single-vehicle accident where the vehicle left the roadway.   It is the only type of crash where deaths have increased in Illinois from 2008 to 2012.

The NHTSA report does not indicate the reason for the drop, but data from its website, NHTSA.gov, does offer some clues.  It notes that DUI awareness and enforcement has reduced deaths, stating "The percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities has declined from 48 percent in 1982 to 31 percent in 2010."   DUI-related deaths have dropped 10% in Illinois between 2008 and 2012. 

Illinois also has a statistically significant rate of seat belt usage than the national average.

You can see the report at the link below:

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811845.pdf
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