Last month, the National Safety Council reported an 11% increase in fatal Illinois auto accidents in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019. Researchers attribute this increase to speeding, reckless driving, and an uptick in pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Understanding the causes of catastrophic collisions can help you avoid a serious auto accident injury.

Distracted driving

Last summer, Illinois strengthened its distracted driving law to limit the number of accidents caused by smartphone use behind the wheel. Previously, texting and driving was a moving violation only on a second or subsequent offense. Now, drivers will receive a moving violation for the first texting and driving offense. Fines range from $75 to $150 per offense.

Stow your device while driving and tell your friends and family about the dangers of driving distractions. The Illinois State Police report that nearly 1 million accidents occur in the U.S. each year because of texting and driving.

Drowsy driving

Driving while fatigued enough to fall asleep at the wheel can have devastating consequences. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reported nearly 800 deaths associated with drowsy driving nationwide in 2017. If you feel tired, pull over in a safe area and rest until you are able to continue driving. Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m., the interval when these crashes most commonly happen.

Passenger distractions

Warn your teen driver about the danger of driving with too many friends in the car. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the risk of a fatal accident involving a driver age 16 or 17:

  • Decreases by 62% in the presence of a passenger age 35 or older
  • Increases by 44% with one passenger younger than 21
  • Increases by 200% with two passengers younger than 21
  • Increases by 400% with three or more passengers younger than 21

When another driver causes an auto accident, you can seek legal compensation for disabling injuries, lost wages and other associated costs.