Fewer traffic fatalities in 2008 but Chicago-area remains state’s deadliest

Nationwide traffic fatalities hit the lowest level in almost half a century last year and the fatality rate, which accounts for variables like fewer miles traveled due to the economy and last year’s gas prices, reached the lowest level ever recorded, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

However, more than 1 in every 4 fatal Illinois crashes occurred in Cook County. In fact, Cook County had six times more fatal accidents than any county in Illinois. And the number of fatal accidents actually increased in Will County and Kane County, the state’s second and third deadliest.

The federal government is releasing nationwide traffic statistics for 2008 this month, which counted 37,251 traffic fatalities in 2008, a 9.7 percent decline from the 41,259 deaths recorded in 2007.

Chicago accident lawyers at Abels & Annes will present the findings on this blog and our sister blog, www.chicagopersonalinjurylawyerblog,com, in the coming days.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the 3,998 fewer road deaths is the largest decline since 1982 and the lowest overall level since 1961.

“While the number of highway deaths in America has decreased, we still have a long way to go,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Illinois traffic deaths declined by 16 percent, from 1,248 deaths in 2007 to 1,043 last year. The 205 fewer deaths in Illinois was the fourth-best decline in the nation after California (561), Florida (235) and North Carolina (243).

Illionois tied with Massachusetts for the 7th largest percentage decline, behind Wisconsin, Virginia, South Datkota, Montana, Nebraska and Delaware.

In the Chicago area:

Cook County: Decreased to 274 fatalities in 2008, compared to 348 in 2007.
DuPage County: Decreased to 24 fatalities in 2008, compared to 37 in 2007.
Lake County: Decreased to 26 fatalities in 2008, compared to 36 in 2007.
Will County: Increased to 44 fatalities in 2008, up one from 43 in 2007.
Kane County: Increased to 40 fatalities, compared to 35 in 2007.

The only states to see an increase in the number of traffic fatalities were Vermont (11%), New Hampshire (7.8%), Wyoming (6%) and Delaware (3.4 %).

The federal statistics show the decline continued in the first quarter of 2009; the January-March estimate of 7,689 deaths represents a nine percent decline from a year ago. It was the twelfth consecutive quarterly decline.

If you or someone you love has been in a Chicago car accident, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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