Government pushes safety improvements to reduce risk of serious or fatal Chicago car accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board has updated its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, asking states to focus on a number of core issues. Each of these issues are often focused on by our Chicago accident lawyers, both here and on our sister site, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog.

“State governments are in a unique position to effect the most significant improvement in certain areas of transportation safety,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “Our Most Wanted List spotlights those states that have made noteworthy progress in better protecting the traveling public – and those that have not.”The government reports that Illinois needs to enact a primary enforcement seat-belt law for back-seat passengers and do a better job of cracking down on hardcore drunk drivers. It also reports that Illinois is one of only three states that lacks a helmet law to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries resulting from Illinois motorcycle accidents.

Improve Motorcycle Safety

This issue replaced recreational boating safety this year as the government continues to try to reduce the high numbers of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents occurring nationwide. Illinois receives a failing grade as one of only three states with no helmet laws for riders, including minors. Only Iowa and New Hampshire also lack helmet laws of any kind.

Young Drivers Safety/Distracted Driving

As we frequently report, Illinois is a leader in this area. The state’s graduated driver’s license program is one of the nation’s best and restrictions are also in place prohibiting teenagers from using cell phones while driving. The state also has limits on the number of passengers permitted in a young driver’s vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 6,000 drivers ages 15 to 20 were involved in fatal accidents in 2008, making traffic accidents the leading cause of death among teenagers. A total of 164 motorists died in Illinois car accidents involving young drivers.

Improve Child Occupant Protection

Illinois also fairs well when it comes to child occupant protection — requiring booster seats for children under 8. Nearly half of all states (22) still lack such a requirement. Nationwide, 1,347 children under the age of 14 were killed in accidents in 2008. Forty-four children in Illinois were killed in traffic crashes — including 23 under the age of 8.

The government reports about half of the 3,000 children killed in traffic accidents in the last decade were unrestrained.

Primary seat belt laws

Illinois was cited as one of the states that does not have a primary seat-belt-enforcement law for back-seat passengers. Last year, over half of the 23,000 vehicle occupants who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts. Seat-belt use reduces the risk of serious or fatal injuries by about 50 percent.

Nineteen states have no primary enforcement law. Illinois is one of 14 states where the primary enforcement law does not apply to all positions.

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