Fewer Chicago car accidents no surprise: Government reports lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1950

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially announced on Thursday that the U.S. recorded the fewest traffic fatalities last year in six decades.

Our Chicago car accident lawyers have been reporting all year, both here and on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, that the number of serious and fatal Illinois traffic accidents has continued to decline in 2010. As of Sept. 10, a total of 601 fatal crashes have occurred so far this year in Illinois — 32 fewer than the 633 reported last year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Ninety-five fatal accidents have been reported so far this year in Chicago.

Nationwide, a total of 33,808 fatal accidents were reported in 2009 — down 9.7 percent from the 37,423 deaths reported in 2008. The record decline marks the lowest number of fatalities since 1950, which recorded 33,186.

An estimated 2.217 million were injured — a decline of about 5 percent from the 2.346 million injured in 2008. That marks the 10th straight year that the number of people injured in car accidents has declined.

“Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “But they must be safer. And we will not rest until they are.”

The NHTSA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. residents between the ages of 3 and 34.

The number of fatal drunk driving accidents also declined, dropping 7.4 percent to 10,839 from the 11,711 reported in 2008.

“Today’s numbers reflect the tangible benefits of record seat belt use and strong anti-drunk driving enforcement campaigns,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “But we are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving. We will continue to work with our state partners to strictly enforce both seat belt use and anti-drunk driving laws across this nation, every day and every night.”

Other highlights:

-33 states and Puerto Rico reported a decline in the number of fatal drunk driving accidents.

-41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported an overall reduction in fatalities.

-Florida (422 fewer) and Texas (405 fewer) reported the largest declines.

We will continue to report how Illinois compares to the rest of the nation as the government releases more detailed information in the coming weeks. Please check back.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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