Traffic Fatalities Drop Below 1,000 for First Time Since 1921
Governor Pat Quinn, along with Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Jonathon E. Monken, today announced that 2009 was the safest year on Illinois roadways in 88 years as traffic fatality numbers dropped below 1,000. Illinois now joins a small, elite group of states who have experienced less than 1,000 highway fatalities in a calendar year. During 2009, more than 100 fewer people were killed on Illinois highways than in 2008, while safety belt usage exceeded 91 percent.
“With the assistance of the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, and local law enforcement, Illinois continues to make great strides in the area of public safety,” said Governor Quinn. “This is a proud and historic day for the men and women dedicated to traffic safety who have made travelling in our state safer.”
In 2008, 1,043 fatalities occurred on Illinois roadways, and in 2007, 1,248 highway fatalities were reported. Since 2003, the data compiled represents a historic downward trend in crash-related deaths. During the same timeframe, safety belt usage has increased each year from 76 percent in 2003 to nearly 92 percent in 2009.
“Throughout the year, the Illinois State Police has partnered with the Illinois Department of Transportation and local law enforcement agencies to implement safety programs that target crashes on our roadways,” said Director Monken. “There is little doubt the combination of programs designed to address teen driving, impaired driving, and safety belts contributed to successfully reducing Illinois fatalities to their lowest level in 88 years.”
ISP and local law enforcement agencies have aggressively targeted what are known as the "Fatal Five" violations in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities. These violations are known to be contributing factors in traffic crash fatalities and include speeding, safety belts, improper lane usage, following too closely and driving under the influence.
Governor Quinn has made the reduction of traffic crash fatalities and the improvement of traffic safety a top priority during his administration. Records compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that driver distraction is a significant factor in traffic crashes resulting in injury or death. The use of a cell phone while driving can increase the chances of becoming involved in a crash by 400 percent.
On January 1, 2010, two new traffic laws take effect in Illinois which:
- Restrict drivers under the age of 19 (with an instruction permit or graduated license) from using a wireless or cellular phone while driving. The law also prohibits the use of wireless telephones for all drivers, regardless of age, while operating a vehicle in a school zone or construction zone.
- Prohibit text messaging, composing, reading or sending electronic messages, or accessing internet sites while driving a motor vehicle.
In addition, Governor Quinn continues to support initiatives designed to reduce fatalities on Illinois roadways including:
- “Operation Save 100” – a campaign aimed to reduce traffic crash fatalities in Illinois and have at least 100 fewer deaths on its roadways in 2009.
- “Operation Teen Safe Driving” – a program which enlists young people to teach safe driving skills to their peers in an effort to reduce teen road fatalities.