Driving in the Plains state of Illinois can be one of the best and worst experiences in the country. With the 3rd most mileage of Interstate and US Highways in the country across a mostly flat agricultural area provides for almost optimal driving conditions. However, traffic in and around Chicagoland metropolitan area during peak travel times are some of the worst congested areas in the country. In fact Chicago roadways have been consistently ranked in the top 5 worst congested areas in America adding over 70 hours of added drive time to traffic routes. With more than half the state’s populations living in the metro area, traffic congestion is a real issue in the state.
As an interior plains state, Illinois provides one of the most developed highway networks in the US, only behind Texas and California in the number of Interstate, US Highways and total mileage of highways. With 13 Interstate Highways passing through Illinois, you are able to travel the state in almost any direction on one of these well-developed divided highway systems.
In the southern half of the state, this type of travel is preferred and can ensure your driving in Illinois is quick and efficient. With the congestion noted around the Chicago metro area, these same highways can become clogged and result in higher than average traffic accidents.
The land of the state is relatively flat, as a plains state except the extreme north western corner of the state and the extreme south of the state where Cahokia once stood, both unglaciated areas that are more prone to rugged topography.
Wide Variance in Weather
Since the state is over 400 miles long north to south the climate patterns of the state can be quite different depending on where you live or travel. For the most part, most of the state is seen as having climate that is very humid. The winters can be extremely cold and the summers very hot. Only the extreme south of the state experiences more mild winters due to its southern extremes bordering on subtropical climates. Snowfall in the northern half of the state reaches an average 38 inches annually, while in the south it only reaches less than half at 14 inches annually.
The state is also subject to 51 thunderstorm days throughout the year, more than average that also contribute to an average of 35 tornadoes occurring per year in the state. Being part of the tornado alley in the southern half of the state, with the most populous portion of tornado alley has meant Illinois has suffered more fatalities due to Tornadoes than any other state, even though the strength of the tornadoes in Illinois are no more than average.
Driving in the state can provide challenges with these dramatic weather realities and can also increase insurance costs for driving depending where you live. The largest driver of insurance cost in the state is still whether you live in the Chicago metro area or outside it.
Insurance Claims & Accidents
The state of Illinois is an at-fault system that allows litigation to recover damages caused in an accident or in the case of malfeasance on the part of a driver. Since the state is also a Comparative fault negative negligence state, only 1 of 13 states in the US, you can also be awarded blame in an accident, even if you did not directly cause it. As an example, if you were speeding at the time of the accident, even if you were hit by another car, you could be found at fault. This fault is ascribed to multiple parties by a judge or jury in multi-party accidents. Your damage award in such a case is reduced by the amount of blame you are also given. 20% blame reduces your claim in a court by 20%.
Although, out of a court room in a private mediation, this may not directly be the case, most insurance adjusters or dispute mediators use these calculations to decide on damages within the claim. It is best to hire an attorney to deal with these cases to ensure you get the best possible result.
Points and DUI
Illinois uses a point system for moving traffic violations. If you get more than 15 points in a 24 month period an automatic suspension occurs. Along with state wide points awarded, Illinois is somewhat unique in that local municipalities or counties also fine or penalize these moving violations with surcharges. These surcharges are generally fines associated with the driving infraction and they can vary widely between areas.
Illinois punishes convictions of DUI harshly with minimum license suspensions of a year and up to a year jail time even for a first offense, as well as monetary fines, ignition interlock devices and possible driver education training. The state is also a Zero Tolerance state for drivers under the age of 21 and all alcohol related offenses can result in license suspension in the state.
The state is the 11th least expensive for insurance, although it can vary greatly where you live. With mandatory liability insurance for all drivers in the state including personal injury, property damage and uninsured coverage drivers are generally covered for accidents. By being an at-fault state you still need to ensure you carry more insurance than you need just in case.
Did You Know That…
1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport is still in the top 3 busiest airports in the world.
2. Illinois, Land of Lincoln has seen 3 Presidents elected while living in the state and a fourth President, Reagan was born and raised in the state.
3. As a comparative fault state you could share the blame of a traffic accident with multiple parties.
4. Living outside the Chicago metropolitan area could save you 50% in insurance costs.
5. Illinois has recorded the 9th most fatalities due to tornadoes because of its dense population in Tornado alley.
6. With over 2000 miles of Interstate highways Illinois is ranked 3rd in the US.
7. The state has almost 9 million licensed drivers.
8. There is a Zero Tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving in the state.
9. Insurers in Illinois can cancel your insurance policy within 60 days for any reason.
10. It is the 5th most populous state in the Union at almost 13 million residents.