CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — New statistics show the number of people dying in crashes is decreasing across the country for the second year in a row.
The same goes for here in Illinois. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation released highway crash data for 2018. It shows a 2.4% decline in overall deaths. That translates to 913 fewer deaths than in 2017 in the U.S. Still, that means 36,560 people lost their lives in roadway crashes last year.
Tow truck drivers like Shane Hyre see the life-altering consequences that come from traffic crashes. He says, “The first year I worked here it was very hard for me, very emotional. I responded to my first fatality and I had to walk away and collect my thoughts.”
In 2018 in Illinois, there were 948 fatal crashes. While that’s 50 fewer than the year before, it’s something nobody wants to see happen at all. That’s one of the reasons Tony Martin goes to work everyday. He teaches drivers education to make sure people understand the safety fundamentals at a young age. He says, “It’s the same thing we’ve been telling them for 20 years: obey the speed limits, signal, stop at stop signs, check your shoulder before changing lanes.” It’s a formula that can prevent a number of these deadly crashes.
Across the nation in 2018 compared to 2017, death among children in traffic crashes reduced by 10.3%, speeding related deaths declined by 5.7% and alcohol impaired driving deaths went down by 3.6%.
Martin says, “I think there are a lot of other factors going into it other than people just deciding to be responsible.” He believes it’s a downward trend that can’t be explained by just one thing. “Parents are encouraging their kids to drive safely. Cars are a lot smarter than they used to be. They have warning sensors in them so you know if there’s somebody in your blind spot. They have automatic breaking if you come up on someone too fast.”
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also calculated deadly crash statistic estimates for the first half of 2019. By this time last year, the death rate was down by 3.4%. That’s 589 fewer deaths. They say that suggests the decreasing trend may be continuing.