The annual Allstate report of the 200 American communities with the safest motorists ranked Rockford, Illinois, at 28. The insurer may not feel so optimistic about the North Central Illinois city when a new report is released. Rockford's fatal accident rate in 2013 soared.
Twenty-one people died in Rockford traffic accidents by the end of October. Eleven victims lost their lives in Rockford in all of 2012. Five of the city's fatalities were caused by hit-and-run drivers. More than half the local deadly accidents involved alcohol or drugs - either an impaired driver or an intoxicated pedestrian.
One of Rockford's worst crashes this year is blamed on a teen driver. Police said the 18-year-old was under the influence of drugs when his vehicle slammed into other cars in a September crash. The young man was recently indicted for first-degree murder, among more than a dozen other criminal counts. A woman died in the accident; her husband was critically injured.
Allstate's annual safe driver report is based on accident frequency, not crash injuries or deaths. In the last report, Allstate estimated Rockford motorists were 10 percent less likely to crash than other U.S. drivers.
More than 800 people died on Illinois roads by late October, the result of 730 traffic accidents. The fatality rate is marginally higher compared to the same period last year. Transportation officials said the state has had fewer than 1,000 fatalities in each of the last four years. Illinois is likely to keep that pace in 2013, despite Rockford's spike in accident deaths.
Behind the numbers are accident victims and families who deal with tremendous heartache, suffering and financial losses.
Punishments are dealt out in criminal courts to drivers who've broken laws. Civil courts assess personal damage inflicted upon victims of negligence. Compensation is awarded to plaintiffs who can prove pain and suffering were caused by a driver's inattentiveness, intoxication, aggression or carelessness.
rrstar.com, "Rockford's fatal wrecks nearly double this year" Chris Green, Oct. 30, 2013