There is encouraging news in Chicago traffic news. Traffic fatalities are down 30% in the city compared to this time last year. There were 108 traffic deaths through October 2018 compared to 77 so far this year.
This is good news for the city and particularly the cities’ transportation department which implemented “Vision Zero,” a plan aimed to eliminate all traffic fatalities in Chicago by 2026. Vision Zero’s plan includes changing intersections to make them safer, road user education and improving transit use in high crash areas, is an international road safety project.
The plan is also using used crash data to identify high-crash corridors and areas, which were prioritized for safety improvements. The areas include downtown Chicago and seven neighborhoods, such as Belmont-Cragin on the Northwest Side and Englewood on the South Side.
I don’t think anyone can say at this point what has caused the decrease in traffic deaths. I think we all hope that the money and time spent by Vision Zero is making our streets safer. I think a more detailed look at the data on the type and location of the traffic accidents will help us answer those questions. Let’s hope this trend continues.
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I have written on this blog multiple times about Chicago’s Vision Zero. It is a traffic safety plan implemented by outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanual who’s goal was to eliminate all pedestrian traffic deaths by 2026. Part of the plan has been the implementation of speeding cameras, larger and more visible cross walks with traffic stop signs and designated bicycle lanes. Vision Zero was off to a rocky start as last year alone saw an uptick in Chicago pedestrian fatalities. Traffic safety might be improving.
According to Block Club Chicago, a local online news source, pedestrian deaths have decreased in so far this year compared to data collected from this time last year.
Between Jan. 1, 2018, and May 31, 2018, 20 pedestrians were killed in Chicago. During the same period in 2019, only 12 people on foot were killed in crashes, according to data presented last week to the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council. Chicago Dept. of Transportation Assistant Commissioner Sean Wiedel called that very encouraging news.
So far, no specific data or studies have been provided to the press explain the decrease in deaths. The article points to the increased number of vehicles on the roads, higher speed limits and a growing number of drivers and those on foot distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices as the main causes for the uptick in pedestrian deaths in recent years. I would like to see what the numbers are by the end of the year to see if any of the policies implemented by Vision Zero could explain why the numbers decreased this years. I would also like to know if new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, plans to keep Vision Zero a priority for the city. Regardless, this is encouraging news, and we can only hope that the numbers continue to decrease the rest of the year and years to come.
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