With dense neighborhoods, crowded downtown areas and busy historic districts, the Chicago Metropolitan area is a great place to walk to many destinations. However, the area is not without its pedestrian problems, where many individuals feel unsafe when crossing streets at crosswalks. Increased enforcement of many of the community’s traffic laws is essential for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all sharing the road.
Advocates for a safer Chicago Metropolitan area are calling for significant improvements in the community’s street designs, especially at intersections. In addition, the advocates are hoping for better enforcement of existing traffic laws to minimize the potential pedestrian accident-related injuries and deaths on city streets.
Dangerous Intersections Abound In The Chicagoland Area
It is essential for the pedestrian to remain attentive and aware when crossing the most dangerous intersections in Chicago. In statistics maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the state experienced 130 pedestrian fatalities from approximately 4700 pedestrian accidents in 2012. As a result, officials of Active Transportation Alliance (ATA), a local organization, identified the 10 most dangerous intersections in Chicago to help increase public awareness. They include:
- East 63rd Street and South Martin Luther King Drive
- West Madison Street and North Cicero Avenue
- West 63rd Street and South Ashland Avenue
- West Ontario Street and North Dearborn Street
- East 79th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue
- North Western Avenue and West Diversey Avenue
- West Fullerton Avenue and North Halsted Street
- North Damien Avenue and West North Avenue
- West Chicago Avenue and North Cicero Avenue
- West Cortland Street and North Ashland Avenue
One of every three traffic fatalities in the Chicago Metropolitan area in 2012 involved pedestrians. This number is comparatively higher than the statistics on statewide fatalities at 14 percent. In the same year, hit and run drivers were involved in four out of every 10 pedestrian deaths in the city, compared to an average of one in five across the nation.
Making Chicago Area Roads Safer
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates 3000 pedestrians are involved in vehicle-related accidents every year within the city limits, resulting in 30 deaths. The city is taking appropriate steps including cracking down on cyclists and drivers at intersections when pedestrians are not given the right-of-way. Enforcement of existing traffic laws is instrumental in ensuring public safety, especially for pedestrians attempting to cross Chicago area roads.
In an effort to minimize pedestrian injuries and deaths, the CDOT has targeted problem intersections throughout the area around retail centers, senior housing, parks and schools. Law enforcement officers are issuing citations of up to $120 for each violation.
State laws enacted in 2010 make it mandatory for all traffic to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. In 2012, Chicago enacted citywide laws, making it mandatory for traffic to stop for a pedestrian at every crosswalk, including crosswalks without extra signage.
Study Provides A Warning for Everyone On Chicago Streets
Motorist traveling throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area are not the only problem for pedestrians. Cyclists are also endangering the walking public, by disobeying traffic rules and making poor decisions. In addition, pedestrians are violating laws, by not using crosswalks when moving from one side of the street to the other. In fact, pedestrians are often distracted talking or texting on smart phones when entering an intersection, increasing their potential of being involved in an accident.
The city is also taking steps to alter existing driving and walking habits by expanding sidewalks, installing bike lanes, and redesigning existing roads with bulbouts (curb extensions) and parklets (sidewalk extensions) to calm traffic. This is because many Chicago motorists fail to stop for pedestrians using crosswalks appropriately. Many drivers choose to accelerate aggressively instead of yield in an attempt to get past the deterrent before the pedestrian steps out into the roadway.
Many of the Chicago area’s roads can be made safer when drivers take the initiative to avoid being distracted when behind the wheel. This means remaining attentive to the roadway and avoid looking at maps, applying makeup, eating or drinking, talking or texting on phones, or driving while fatigued or impaired with alcohol and drugs.
By improving traffic enforcement and intersection design, the city streets can be made much safer, especially for pedestrians attempting to cross the road. As one of the nation’s most active communities, the Chicago Metropolitan area needs to ensure that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are safe when sharing its many roads.
See how the most recent data compares with intersection accident statistics from previous years here.