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Driver death rates go up as the economy improves

Although vehicles are performing increasingly well in crash tests, driver death rates in Illinois and other states are on the rise. In 2015, the number of reported driver deaths increased by 7 percent over the previous year. Contrary to what might be expected considering improvements in safety technology and vehicle design, economic forecasters say that an increasing number of traffic fatalities is a predictable consequence of an improving economy.

Rising consumer confidence may be a factor. According to data, motorists take to the road more frequently when the economy is better, and the amount of discretionary driving increases, which is associated with increased risk. A report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in May 2017 also suggests that people drive faster as economic conditions improve.

An IIHS vice president for research and statistical services designed a model that he used to estimate annual death rate trends moving forward. Based on the correlation between unemployment rates and the number of traffic deaths since 1990, the model also considers highway and vehicle safety improvements that have been implemented over time. The model indicates that the recent in driver deaths will peak in 2016 and decrease by 2024. If the model is correct, the 2024 totals will still exceed the number of driver death rates recorded in 2015.

Crash rates could potentially be lowered by advancing technologies, but it could be a length of time before every vehicle on the road is equipped with crash avoidance or autonomous driving capabilities. Until science eliminates the potential for accidents altogether, many Illinois motorists will be seriously injured in car crashes. If the accident is determined to be caused by the negligence of another driver, then a personal injury attorney could be of assistance in obtaining compensation for medical expenses and other losses.

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