New Illinois laws designed to slow increase in traffic fatalities

In 2016, traffic fatalities in Illinois exceeded 1,000 for the first time since 2008. That grim figure has led to a number of new laws being passed to stem the increase in vehicle accidents, many of which came into force at the beginning of this year. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the new laws address a wide range of issues, including driving around vehicles with their hazard lights on, speeding through work or school zones, and driving without insurance. While the new laws are being welcomed by many safety experts, critics also point out that enforcement of existing laws - most notably speeding - is becoming an issue of concern.

New Illinois traffic laws

Quite a few traffic laws went into force in Illinois on January 1. Among them is an expansion of the "move over" law. That law already requires drivers to either slow down or change lanes when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. Now the law has been expanded to include any vehicle that is stopped along the side of the highway and has its hazard lights on.

The penalties for speeding have also been increased. Driving 26 to 35 mph above the posted speed limit is now a Class B misdemeanor, while driving more than 35 mph over the speed limit is a Class A misdemeanor. Furthermore, speeding through a school or work zone could now result in jail time.

Also, drivers who are cited for driving without insurance could have their vehicle towed if they are stopped again for the same offense within 12 months of the first offense. Finally, the fine for drivers who try to drive around lowered railroad crossing gates has been doubled to $500 for a first offense.

Speeding citations down

While the tougher laws are designed to send a message to dangerous drivers throughout the state, some critics suggest that the real problem is a lack of enforcement. According to the State Journal-Register, speeding citations issued by the Illinois State Police declined by 40 percent between 2010 and 2015, despite the fact that traffic fatalities have increased over that same time period. The decline in citations has been blamed on there being fewer available troopers. The decline does show that no matter how tough Illinois' driving laws may be, there is little hope that they can improve overall road safety if they are not actually being enforced.

Motor vehicle accidents

As accidents in Illinois continue to rise, drivers throughout the state should know that there is help at hand if they are ever involved in a crash. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims in both the immediate and long-term aftermath of their ordeal, including with helping them pursue financial compensation that could help mitigate some of the worst financial pressures caused by the accident.