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Chicago’s Road Designs Are Deadly

Chicago’s Road Designs Are DeadlyThe New Year started out on a somber note with yet another tragedy. On January 2nd, another person was killed at the Red Line station intersection at 79th Street. The unnamed pedestrian was attempting to cross the street at a crosswalk as a driver hastily blew through a red light and struck the pedestrian. The driver, along with several of their passengers, attempted to run but were ultimately detained.

The very next day, there was yet another victim. Only a mile further down the road at 87th Street, a man exited a car stopped in traffic when he was quickly hit by an oncoming cargo van. Once police arrived on the scene, the driver of the cargo van declined a DUI test, which resulted in an automatic license suspension in the state of Illinois. In both instances, the pedestrians were killed.

Whether the drivers that struck these pedestrians were guilty of driving under the influence or not, the fact of the matter is that some of these Chicago roads are dangerous. In both of these instances, the drivers were exiting the Dan Ryan Expressway and proceeding to travel another main stretch of road. The way these roads are designed are simply problematic. And if you get into a car accident on one of these roads, you could be seriously injured.

Widening roads to make more lanes is not always best

While the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) states that the most common approach to resolving congested areas is by adding travel lanes, they also admit that this is not always the best approach. NORDIC Road and Transport Research confirms this with a study which found increasing the number of lanes at the expense of maintaining wider center sections and spacious lane widths will actually increase the number of accidents on roads. In more recent years, engineers and planners have been looking to manage the operation of existing highway congestion instead with things like:

  • Metering flow onto freeways
  • Dynamically timing traffic lights
  • Effectively managing traffic incidents
  • Providing travelers with timely road updates
  • Implementing reversible commuter lanes
  • Creating movable median barriers for peak travel times
  • Restricting turns at commonly congested intersections

Reducing the number of lanes could help prevent more accident victims

Cities are the home of thousands of people, and Chicago is no different. Along with those who actually live there, there are countless others who travel through it at all times of the day. From 2006-2007, the Dan Ryan Expressway that runs through Chicago was reconstructed to be better suited for the roughly 300,000 vehicles that traveled it per day. It was expanded to include eight lanes of travel for six miles that then expanded to 16 lanes of travel for an additional four miles.

However, it has also become one of the deadliest roads in Chicago with fatal accidents happening all the time. The Federal Highway Administration recommends reducing the number of lanes of main roads where there are more travel lanes than necessary.

Cities are not suited for massive roadways

While major highways are important all over the country, cities are not the best place for stretches of road with so many travel lanes—especially in areas with high foot traffic. We already covered that the Dan Ryan Expressway has far too many lanes, but what may be causing so many fatal accidents is speed. When cars are coming off of huge highways like the Dan Ryan Expressway, it seems like they may continue to travel at that same highway speed on the next stretch of road, especially when there are still multiple lanes.

At 79th Street Red Line Station, there are six lanes of travel, not including bus lanes, that a pedestrian would need to walk in order to cross the street. Now imagine trying to cross that many lanes as cars are driving well over the speed limit. The results can be, and have proven to be, deadly.

Chicago is a city. There is and always will be heavy foot traffic in certain areas even as major roads are expanding around them. The FHWA points out that minimizing the number of lanes on a road will reduce the amount of lanes a pedestrian will need to safely travel across. They also say that reducing the number of lanes will slow down overall traffic speed, making the area safer for people to walk.

There are certain times of day where roads are more dangerous

The National Safety Council conducted a study in 2020 where they found fatal crashes to be more prevalent at certain times of day. While accidents can happen all day long, the majority of them seem to happen when there is limited daylight. Both fatal and non-fatal crashes most commonly  occurred between 4 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. It makes sense that this stretch of time gets pushed back a bit for fatalities in the spring and summer months. Since there is more daylight later in the day, they found that fatal crashes peaked between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. instead. Seeing these statistics in conjunction with the deadly road designs in Chicago, we know that this is a recipe for disaster.

If you have been injured in a Cook County car accident on a road with an abundance of travel lanes, you could be entitled to financial compensation. Whether you were struck as a pedestrian or hit while traveling yourself, struggling with painful injuries as a result of an accident in Chicago can be devastating. But do not worry. Our experienced car accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law, PC can help. Call our office or complete our contact form today. Our consultations are always free.