Recent studies have shown that deaths resulting from car accidents in the Chicagoland area have declined. Over the last decade certain safety measures, as well as newer vehicles designs, have lead to a decrease of about 200 fatalities a year. Over the course of a three-year span (from 2005 to 2008) traffic accidents in the seven-county region studied decreased over 30% and the overall injury rate decreased 18% in that same time period. There are several factors that the study, conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation, cited as reasons for the reduction of crashes in the Chicagoland area. One of these factors is an overall improvement in road conditions, making the roads safer for travelers. These safety features range from adding additional and clearer lane-striping which helps cars stay in the appropriate section of the road, adding cable median barriers which are designed to stop cars in which the driver has lost control of the vehicle and keep out-of-control cars from flipping into traffic that is traveling in the other direction, and better lighting to make late-night driving safer. Another key factor, according to Chicago Breaking News, is the recent influx of safer vehicles that are designed to withstand crash damage better and are able to protect the passengers better in the event of a crash. A third factor that the study showed as a contributing factor is stricter seat belt laws being imposed in Illinois, as well as roadside checks, which often result in stopping drivers that are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Stopping these motorists before they have a chance to get into a crash, that may injure themselves or others, is very helpful in reducing the number of fatal accidents each year.
While these safety measures have led to a reduction in accidents, there is still much more to be done. There are still around 300,000 accidents in the Chicago area each year and a fatal accident occurs as frequently as once a day. The study cites certain factors that need to be worked on in order to better improve the crash statistics, such as finding a way to reduce vehicle and pedestrian accidents in downtown Chicago and finding a way to reduce late night driving accidents. In downtown Chicago about a quarter of the traffic deaths occurred in pedestrian accidents. This number is very high and requires some type of safety measure to ensure that this number goes down. At this point no new measures are in place to make pedestrians safer, but this is an area that the Illinois Department of Transportation has seen needs work and will hopefully find new measures to help reduce the number of these fatal accidents in downtown Chicago. Additionally, the study shows that the number of late-night accidents is significant, accounting for over 35% of all fatal crashes in the area. Certain factors such as impaired drivers, tired drivers, slower reaction time at night, and faster speeds traveled due to the lack of traffic at night, are believed to be the reasons that this statistic is so high. While the hope is that more seat belt laws and road checks will (and as the study shows are) cutting down on some of these late-night accidents, more work still needs to be done. Additionally, while certain areas are better lit and help improve the safety in these areas, many areas still need better lighting to help reduce the number of late-night accidents. Luckily, the Illinois Department of Transportation seems to recognize what needs work to help improve the safety of our roads and will continue to work hard to reduce the number of traffic accidents that occur each year in the Chicagoland area. To read more about this traffic accident study and the plans to further improve the statistics, please click on this link.