NHTSA report indicates an increase in the number of fatal wrecks in 2016

According to the NHTSA, 2016 saw an increase in the number of fatal auto accidents, despite a decrease in the leading causes, distracted and drowsy driving.

Motor vehicle accidents are an all too common occurrence in Illinois, and throughout the U.S., and often result in serious injuries or death for those involved. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released its fatal traffic crash report for 2016. The data collected shows the number of auto collision-related deaths jumped by 5.6 percent, as compared to the previous year.

Distracted driving and drowsy driving were listed as the leading two causes of fatal auto accidents in the U.S. for the year. This was despite a 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent decrease in the number of deaths they contributed to respectively. Rounding out the top three, drunk driving-related deaths reportedly caused 1.7 percent more deaths in 2016.

Distracted driving

For drivers, behaviors they might not even think about may take their attention away from the task of operating their cars, and increase their risk of getting into a serious or fatal crash. Non-driving actions that take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or mind off the road may be considered driving distractions. This includes changing the radio station, adjusting the navigation system, talking to passengers or on the phone, texting, and eating or drinking. Should motorists' attention be diverted from driving and the road, they may not be able to appropriately adjust to any hazards, emergencies or other changes in the driving conditions.

Drowsy driving

Focusing on the more obvious reckless driving behaviors, many people overlook the danger of driving while overly tired or fatigued. Whether due to not getting adequate sleep, an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder, or any other number factors, drowsiness may significantly impede drivers' ability to safely operate their vehicles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that sleepiness or fatigue may impair people's decision-making while behind the wheel, make them less able to focus on the road and delay their response to situations that cause them to have to steer or brake suddenly. Consequently, they may be unable to avoid some serious auto accidents.

Drunk driving

Despite knowing it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or higher, many people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking. Reducing the brain's function and having other negative effects on people's central nervous system, alcoholic beverages may impact people's ability to drive safely. For example, people may experience exaggerated behavior, loss of small-muscle control, impaired judgment, released inhibitions and lowered alertness after as few as three drinks. This may impede their ability to track moving objects, make it difficult to steer and slow their reactions to emergency or other situations on the road. These and other effects resulting from alcohol consumption may increase people's likelihood of causing or otherwise being involved in a serious collision.

Pursuing financial compensation

Regardless of the cause, when fatal auto accidents occur in Illinois, families may be left not only dealing with upset and grief over their sudden loss, but also facing a range of losses. In addition to pre-death medical expenses resulting from the collision, funerary costs and the loss of an income in the household may cause further distress during an already difficult time. Therefore, those who have lost loved ones as a result of motor vehicle collisions may benefit from discussing their rights and options with an attorney.