A terrible confluence of events led to a deadly accident on Interstate 80 earlier this month. A man driving a minivan allegedly got behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. The resulting motor vehicle accident caused one fatality and involved three vehicles.
According to police reports, the minivan driver – who is from Chicago – drove west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80. He drove straight into another car, causing the vehicle to spin into the median. While in the median, the car was hit by a truck. The police reported that the car was then dragged down the road for 200 feet.
The driver of the car – who was hit by both the reportedly intoxicated driver and the truck driver – was killed. The man who initially caused the collision sustained personal injuries and was taken to the hospital. He faces charges of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. The truck driver did not sustain any injuries in the accident.
This accident demonstrates many of the principal dangers on Illinois’ roadways. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 138 fatal motor vehicle accidents in Illinois – resulting in 162 fatalities – from January through March 12, 2013. This represents an increase of 20 fatalities caused by Illinois motor vehicle accidents from the same time the year prior.
Wrong-way accidents and impaired drivers
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, wrong-way crashes are an especially dangerous type of collision, with 80 percent involving a head-on accident at high rates of speed.
In addition, the NTSB reports that around 60 percent of all wrong-way collisions involve a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. In a small study conducted by the NTSB, seven out of nine wrong-way collisions involved a driver who had a blood alcohol content over 0.15, almost twice the legal limit in many states – including Illinois.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that approximately 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drunk drivers. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, over 51,600 people in the state were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2002.
In addition to the dangers posed by drunk drivers, large trucks – even when operated by sober drivers – pose significant hazards on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were approximately 380,000 truck accidents in the U.S. in 2008. The NHTSA has reported that over 4,000 of those collisions resulted in fatalities.
In 2008, 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were caused by large truck accidents – almost 4,230 people were killed in such accidents that year. Another approximately 90,000 people sustained personal injuries in truck accidents in 2008. The damage caused in accidents involving a large truck and a car is often severe, due to the difference in size between the vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a truck driver or a driver under the influence of alcohol, consulting with a skilled, Illinois personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.