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Traffic fatalities increase

Bureau County is the exception

PRINCETON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced an increase in traffic fatalities during 2012 and also to-date for 2013.

So far this year, with final statistics not yet available, the overall number of Illinois fatalities has increased about 2.5 percent compared to the same period in 2012. As of Dec. 17, 2013, preliminary numbers show Illinois motor vehicle fatalities at 950 for 2013, which is 20 more than the same period last year.

Looking at the number of drunk driving fatalities in the completed 2012 year, the NHTSA showed Illinois drunk driving fatalities increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2012, from 278 to 321. Nationwide, the number of drunk driving fatalities increased 4.6 percent with 2011 fatalities totaling 9,865 and 2012 fatalities of 10,322.

Illinois Department of Transportation records show 10 people died in 10 fatal crashes last year during the 2012 Christmas holiday period on Illinois roads. Of that number, two fatalities involved a driver who had been drinking.

Fortunately, the Bureau County numbers for fatal traffic crashes have not increased in recent years, Bureau County Coroner Janice Wamhoff said on Monday. She usually handles one or two traffic fatalities a year, she said.

On Dec. 23, the NHTSA announced a five-year extension of its cooperative agreement with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), comprised of 15 automakers, to continue researching advanced alcohol detection technology that could prevent vehicles from being driven by a drunk driver.

“Drunk driving remains a deadly crime that tears apart families and destroys lives,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We will continue to work closely with all of our federal, state and local safety partners, including the automotive industry to combat drunk driving with new, lifesaving technologies.”

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