When it comes to car accidents in the United States, Illinois doesn’t rank in the top 10 for most accidents, but it also doesn’t rank in the bottom 10. This means that car accidents are fairly common in Illinois. Here are the top three causes of car accidents in Illinois and what to do if you’re in a car accident.
The Top 3 Causes of Car Accidents in Illinois
#1: Bad Weather
While not necessarily the most common cause of car accidents, bad weather does play a role in crashes. Illinois sees all four seasons, meaning that both rain and snow can make roads dangerous at times. When driving in the winter it’s important to be aware of icy roads, which increases the likelihood of both single- and multi-vehicle crashes. The spring and summer bring more rainy weather, and wet and flooded roads increase the likelihood of single-vehicle crashes.
It’s also important to note that other road conditions like construction work also increase the risk of wrecks, especially those involving “pedestrians” or construction workers. No matter the road conditions, it’s imperative to exercise caution.
#2: Impaired/Distracted Driving
Anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road can be considered impaired or distracted driving, and this is the top cause of car accidents in Illinois. Examples of impaired driving include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including legal drugs that may impair cognitive function) and driving when tired (fatigued driving). Examples of distracted driving may include:
- Texting and talking on the phone
- Talking to other passengers in the car
- GPS use that isn’t hands-free
- Eating food
- Applying makeup
Anything that takes your attention away from the road for even just a second can be dangerous.
#3: Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is another common cause of car wrecks in Illinois. The state defines reckless driving as driving a vehicle with a disregard for the safety of other people or property. Speeding is one of the most common types of reckless driving, and it’s often considered to be its own category of accident causes in many states. Illinois defines reckless speeding as driving 35 mph or more over a posted speed limit.
Other types of reckless driving may include:
- Using an incline to make a vehicle airborne
- Running red lights and/or stop signs
- Lane swerving (erratic driving)
- Distracted driving
The 3 Steps to Take if You’re in a Car Accident in Illinois
#1: Contact the Proper Authorities and Professionals
First and foremost, you should call 911 if you’re involved in a car accident. Calling 911 will send the proper authorities to the scene of the accident, which can also protect you legally. In Illinois, you’re required to call the police if the accident results in any serious injuries, death, or more than $1,500 worth of property damages. Calling 911 will also send emergency medical services to the scene if there are any obvious injuries.
Next, you’ll want to contact two types of professionals: a physician and an attorney. Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured in a wreck, it’s a good idea to get checked out anyway. Some injuries may even show up days or weeks after the accident. You’ll also want to call a car accident lawyer to ensure that you get all of the compensation that you’re entitled to.
#2: Gather Adequate Information About the Wreck
This should be done after calling 911 because it’s important to get enough accurate information as soon as possible. Take pictures of all the vehicles involved in the wreck, and try to get statements from witnesses. You should also get information from the other driver(s) involved in the wreck. This includes their:
- First and last name
- Insurance information
- Phone number and address
#3: Notify Your Insurance Company
Finally, you need to let your insurance company know that your vehicle was damaged in an accident— even if it wasn’t your fault. Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver who caused the wreck is responsible for paying for any damages, but some insurance policies require you to contact them regardless. You may also have additional coverage to help pay for damages. However, always speak with a car accident lawyer before accepting anything any insurance company offers you to ensure you get fair compensation.
Even though car accidents aren’t as common in Illinois as they are in other U.S. states, it’s still helpful to know what to do if you’re ever involved in one. It’s even more helpful for everyone to know what not to do when driving to avoid accidents in the first place.