What Are the Leading Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Illinois?

Published on: 03/06/23 — In 

While many people assume that reckless driving or speeding is to blame, the truth is much more complicated. The reality is that Illinois has some of the most dangerous roads in the nation, and these hazards can lead to fatal car accidents.

Chris Ktenas, Illinois car accident attorney

Given the alarming rate of fatalities, it is only necessary to explore the causes of these accidents and how to ensure you are protected in the event of a tragedy. We understand how difficult it can be to lose a loved one in a car accident. Our Chicago wrongful death attorneys are here to help, call us today at (312) 300-2515 to schedule a free consultation.

Top Causes of Car Accidents in Illinois

A car accident may be defined as an incident in which two or more vehicles collide, resulting in physical injury, death, and/or property damage. The incidence of car accidents has been increasing steadily in Illinois over the last few years and is a major concern for public health and safety.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2020, 78,486 collisions were reported in which at least one individual sustained property damage costing between $501 and $1,500. This goes to show that even the most trivial of collisions can carry financial costs or result in physical injury.

The cause of Illinois car accidents can be attributed to various factors. These are the top causes of fatal car accidents in the State:

Drunk Driving

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) has been identified as one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in Illinois. Drunk driving means operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above the state’s legal limit. In Illinois, the blood-alcohol concentration limit is 0.08%. DUI could include anything from driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.

a woman on the ground injured after the cause of a fatal car accident

Every 45 minutes, 32 people in the US die in alcohol-related car crashes. The total financial cost of these fatalities was an estimated $123.3 billion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state of Illinois involve alcohol consumption. In 2020, there were 1, 194 fatalities due to drunk driving accidents.

Distracted Driving

The next leading cause of car accidents is distracted driving. This refers to any activity that draws the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. It includes activities such as texting and emailing while driving, using a cell phone or other electronic device, eating, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers, and more. Distracted driving accidents can be extremely dangerous and has been cited as one of the leading causes of car accidents in Illinois for several years.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that distracted driving caused by cell phone use or texting was a contributing factor in nearly 30,000 injury accidents nationwide—a staggering 9% of all motor vehicle crashes. The situation is even more severe where car crashes are concerned in Illinois, with an estimated 20% of all fatal car accidents involving distracted driving.


Speeding is another common cause of fatal car accidents in Illinois. Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit or drive recklessly are more likely to be involved in an accident. It is quite common to underestimate the speed of an approaching vehicle, thus leading to collisions.

When a vehicle is at speed, it takes much longer to come to a stop, resulting in collisions that are more severe and with higher fatality rates. With the number of speed-related fatalities rising in the state, it is essential to be aware of this hazard and drive responsibly.

Drowsy or Fatigued Driving

Drowsy or fatigued driving is another significant cause of car accidents. Drowsiness causes cognitive impairment in judgment, reaction time, and awareness, which increases the risk of being involved in a crash.  Tired drivers, who are speeding and disregarding the posted speed limit, contribute to a higher rate of accidents caused by traffic fatalities. Death from fatigued driving in 2020 was 633 in Illinois. 

When a driver is sleepy, their brain does not function properly and they may experience microsleeps that last several seconds without their knowledge. This can be extremely dangerous when driving and has the potential to cause fatal car accidents.

Admittedly, car accidents may not necessarily be caused by drivers’ negligence but may be unavoidable due to the conditions of the road. Weather-related hazards such as rain, snow, and ice can be extremely dangerous, making driving more difficult and increasing the risk of motor vehicle crashes. In fact, weather conditions represent a major hazard to road safety and are considered one of the leading causes of car accidents in Illinois.

Dangerous Road Conditions

Lastly, dangerous road conditions can be a major factor in fatal car accidents. Poorly maintained roads, potholes, construction sites, and other hazards that impair visibility or create obstacles can all lead to serious car accidents.

When the roads are not properly maintained, the chances of a car accident increase significantly. It is essential to be aware of this risk while driving and to always be vigilant of possible road hazards.

The legal consequences of a car accident can be devastating for all involved. If the accident was caused by negligence, recklessness, or other criminal behavior, one could be held liable for damages. The police officer may be called to the scene after a drunk driver causes a fatal accident resulting in severe injuries and bodily injury.

several cars in a pile up after a fatal cause to the accident

In the event of a fatal car accident in Illinois, it is highly recommended that you seek legal representation from a qualified attorney who specializes in personal injury law. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and protect you against potential lawsuits.

It is also important to take measures to protect yourself in the event of an accident.

Help Be Part of the Solution, Keep Your Eyes on the Roads!

No matter how much effort is put in to minimize the number of fatal car accidents, the reality is that they still occur and it is important to be aware of the legal protections that are available. Knowing your rights and understanding the laws surrounding fatal car accidents can help you protect yourself in case tragedy does strike.

For example, if you are involved in a fatal car accident as a driver or passenger, the law dictates that all parties must be held accountable. Additionally, the surviving family members may be entitled to financial compensation for their loss through a wrongful death suit or other legal action "personal injury claim".

At Ktenas Injury Lawyers, we pride ourselves on offering comprehensive legal services to those who have been affected by fatal car accidents. We understand the struggles that victims and their families face, and our attorneys are dedicated to helping you move forward after such a devastating event.

Contact us today at (312) 300-2515 for more information on how we can help guide you through the legal process and ensure that you are protected.