Traffic Safety officials encourage safe driving practices this weekend

Traffic Safety officials encourage safe driving practices this weekend

SPRINGFIELD– The Fourth of July is almost upon us and as some Illinoisans pack their cars for holiday travel safety experts are reminding folks to be extra cautious on the roads.

The National Safety Council is estimating 409 people will lose their lives, and more than 49,000 will be injured nationally in car accidents between Thursday evening and Sunday night. National Safety Council President and CEO Debbie Hersman says roadways are especially dangerous in the summer months, and there is increased risk during holiday weekends.

“We actually expect this Fourth of July to be the worst Fourth of July on record when it comes to fatalities since 2008,” says Hersman. “A lot of people are driving, the economy is getting better, gas prices are lower than they were last summer and all of this contributes to increased risk.”

She says in Illinois, there were nearly 1,000 motor vehicle fatalities in 2013, and there’s been an increase in deaths every month this year since January. She says in general, buses, trains and airlines have much lower death rates than passenger vehicles per passenger mile of travel.

Hersman says the good news is, advanced car features such as anti-lock brakes, back-up cameras and electronic stability control are helping to improve vehicle safety. But she says drivers also need to be responsible and take precautions.

“As people are making their plans and packing for their summer vacation, make sure they remember when they are on the road to put down the phone, to buckle up and make sure they always have a sober driver,” says Hersman.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among people ages one to 54, and seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.