State highway traffic fatalities have trended downward in recent years. In fact, in 2009, the traffic death toll dipped below 1,000 for the first time since 1921.
Unless motorists exercise more care behind the wheel, however, that trend may reverse itself.
As of Wednesday, 921 people had lost their lives on Illinois roadways so far this year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
That number exceeds the 2009 death toll of 911.
It tops the 2011 death toll of 918.
And, with less than 3 weeks left in the year, traffic deaths are on course to exceed the 2010 death toll of 927.
Illinois has made great strides toward reducing highway fatalities.
The state enacted laws to reduce drunken driving, encourage seat belt usage, crack down on speeders, and outlaw certain driving distractions.
Regular traffic safety campaigns are conducted; the most recent is “Drive to Survive,” which continues through the end of the year.
Since 2009, the state has been on a mission to repair bridges and roadways, paid for through a capital construction bill approved that year.
Automakers have cooperated by building vehicles with safety features that do more to protect occupants in a crash.
Yet, fatalities seem to be edging upward.
A shaky economy in 2009 likely was a factor in that year’s reduced fatalities. When people cut back on vehicle trips because of the economy, a reduction in crashes usually happens.
We certainly would hate to see an improving economy spark an upswing in fatal vehicle crashes.
Let’s all follow the advice of state traffic officials.
Obey traffic laws.
Don’t drink and drive.
Don’t text and drive.
Avoid cell phone use behind the wheel.
Obey posted speed limits.
Always buckle up.
The state has put forth extra effort to make driving safer.
Drivers should do the same thing.