With lower gas prices and higher job growth in 2015, more Illinois residents had the money to take car trips. The increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2015 is one of the factors that might have led to an increase in traffic deaths around the country. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a 7.2 percent jump in traffic deaths from 2014 to 2015.

There were 35,092 traffic deaths in 2015, and the percentage increase in traffic fatalities that year was the highest since 1966. Despite the single-year increase, the total number of traffic deaths in 2015 was still 25 percent lower than it was in 2005. There has been a decline in fatal car accidents over the past decades thanks to vehicle safety improvements and a decline in drunk driving.

Though the NHTSA says that a 3.5 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled probably led to more traffic deaths in 2015, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx still wants to know what other factors might have contributed to the increase in fatal car accidents. He has asked researchers to look into the data and try to find ways to prevent fatal car accidents.

According to the NHTSA, 30 percent of car accident fatalities in 2015 involved a drunk driver or one who was driving over the speed limit. Other fatal car accidents in 2015 involved a driver who was distracted. The surviving family members of a person who was killed in an accident that was caused by this type of negligent behavior on the part of another motorist may want to meet with an attorney to see if a wrongful death lawsuit would be an appropriate way of seeking compensation for their losses.