Improving traffic safety in northeastern Illinois

Improving traffic safety in northeastern Illinois

A woman walks down a street with a car and bicyclist.

A parent pushing a stroller. A young adult riding a bike to work. A senior walking to the grocery store. Everyone deserves to get to where they’re going safely.

But our region is currently experiencing a traffic safety crisis. Roadway deaths have risen sharply since COVID-19, and an increasing number of those killed are people walking or riding a bike — our most vulnerable travelers. Vehicles are also getting larger; they take up more space on the road and their mass is more deadly in crashes.

To address this alarming safety crisis, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) launched the Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR) program, which provides a framework for safety research and programs to make northeastern Illinois safer for all travelers.

On this page, you can find the latest information on CMAP’s safety work and resources to improve safety in your community.

Why is CMAP addressing traffic safety?

Our region has seen a significant increase in deadly crashes since 2014. Between 2019 and 2022, traffic deaths in northeastern Illinois have increased by an alarming 29%. And while the traffic safety crisis affects everyone, the risk is greater among low-income and Black communities.

Improving traffic safety doesn’t just save lives. When people feel safe walking and biking around their communities, they are less likely to drive — with positive impacts on traffic congestion, public health, air quality, and our environment.

As our region’s metropolitan planning organization, CMAP, plays an important role in traffic safety. ON TO 2050, the comprehensive plan for northeastern Illinois, recommends improving traffic safety. CMAP is federally required to set traffic safety targets and program transportation funds to meet them. And as a regional convener, CMAP has the ability to work with our partners and communities across northeastern Illinois to take a comprehensive approach to safety.

How will CMAP address safety?

Safe Travel for All Roadmap logo.The Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR) is a multiyear effort to improve traffic safety in northeastern Illinois in a comprehensive, equitable, data-informed, and collaborative way. It will focus on speed management and improving safety for people walking, rolling, and riding bicycles.

STAR is primarily funded by a nearly $5 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The program will take three approaches:

  • Develop safety action plans and support implementation
  • Identify and support safe, connected networks for bicyclists and pedestrians and improve connections to transit
  • Increase awareness and focus on a Safe System approach and complete streets standards to protect vulnerable roadway users

Safe System approach: safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, post-crash care, and safer roads. Death and serious injuries are unacceptable, humans make mistakes, humans are vulnerable, responsibility is shared, safety is proactive, and redundancy is crucial.

There is growing support for a Safe System approach, which takes a holistic view of improving traffic safety. It anticipates human mistakes, acknowledges that humans are vulnerable, and promotes redundancies in traffic safety, so if a crash happens, it is less likely to be fatal.

CMAP will also seize the exciting opportunity created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which increases key safety funds by more than 30 percent.

Speed management recommendations

CMAP's Speed Management report explores the factors that contribute to speed-related traffic safety risks and provides recommendations on road design, speed limit policy, education, and equitable enforcement. The report proposes that the region adopt the Safe System Approach to achieve travel safety goals outlined in ON TO 2050, the region’s comprehensive plan. It also informs our region's safety action planning work.

The report presents the following key recommendations: 

  • Improve roadway design and capacity guidance to reduce speeding and exposure to safety risks 

  • Reduce speed limits in urbanized areas where people walk, bike, and use transit 

  • Support safe driving behavior with education and equitable enforcement 

 

Read the Speed Management executive summary

Read the Speed Management full report

Resources

CMAP tools and videos

  • Newsletter
    Safety news.
    Sign up to receive updates from CMAP on traffic safety and the Safe Travel for All Roadmap program.
  • Traffic safety research paper
    This paper explores ways to improve the safety of the region’s roadway system for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
  • Video: Complete Streets: Safe by Design
    This webinar explains how policies and design practices for complete streets can better manage vehicle speeds and create safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Video: How can we design safe and complete streets for all?
    This panel discussion explores how we can design safer streets for all and create more vibrant, walkable communities with an equity lens.
  • Video: Using road design and technology to support pedestrian safety
    This short video, featuring experts at CMAP and the Roadway Safety Foundation, discusses steps communities can take to make travel safer for pedestrians.


  • Podcast: Improving Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
    Victoria Barrett, senior transportation planner at CMAP, joined the GovLove podcast to discuss the traffic safety crisis and how roadway design and other approaches can improve pedestrian safety.
  • Complete streets toolkit
    This toolkit offers guidance on incorporating a complete streets approach into local planning, design, and construction processes. Complete streets meet the needs of all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel.
  • Safety messages for social media
    Download these graphics and post to your social media, newsletters, and other channels to help create a culture of safety in your community.
  • Speed management research paper (coming soon)

Funding

Data

This website from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) provides crash summaries for cities in Illinois.

This IDOT tool highlights intersections and corridors with higher crash counts.

Education and guidance

  • USDOT’s Safe Streets and Roads for All resources
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)'s $5 billion grant program to improve safety nationwide has a collection of resources for applicants.
  • National Roadway Safety Strategy
    USDOT outlines its comprehensive approach to significantly reducing serious injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways, roads, and streets.
  • City Limits: Setting Speed Limits on Urban Streets
    Guidance from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) on how city practitioners can strategically set speed limits on urban streets, using a Safe System approach, to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
  • Speed management design treatments
    Guidance from NACTO on design features that can reduce vehicle speeds.
  • Traffic-calming ePrimer
    A thorough review of current traffic calming measures from the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Vision Zero Network
    A nonprofit project to help communities across the nation reach their goals of Vision Zero — eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries — while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all.
  • Bike safety quiz
    Interactive quizzes from Ride Illinois that teach adults, children, motorists, and truck drivers safety techniques, relevant state laws, and how to share the road.

    A person on a bike stops at a stop sign.

Local safety projects

CMAP provides communities in the region with technical assistance to improve safety. Current and upcoming traffic safety projects are:

Project partners

To support this work, CMAP has convened a Traffic Safety Resource Group with the Illinois Department of Transportation, each county's department of transportation, and the Chicago Department of Transportation, as well as nonprofit partners and advocates working on traffic safety, mobility, and equity. This group will continue to meet to provide input and direction on the STAR program.

Contact

For questions, email Lindsay Bayley, program lead for safe and complete streets at CMAP.

To Top

Improving traffic safety in northeastern Illinois

A woman walks down a street with a car and bicyclist.

A parent pushing a stroller. A young adult riding a bike to work. A senior walking to the grocery store. Everyone deserves to get to where they’re going safely.

But our region is currently experiencing a traffic safety crisis. Roadway deaths have risen sharply since COVID-19, and an increasing number of those killed are people walking or riding a bike — our most vulnerable travelers. Vehicles are also getting larger; they take up more space on the road and their mass is more deadly in crashes.

To address this alarming safety crisis, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) launched the Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR) program, which provides a framework for safety research and programs to make northeastern Illinois safer for all travelers.

On this page, you can find the latest information on CMAP’s safety work and resources to improve safety in your community.

Why is CMAP addressing traffic safety?

Our region has seen a significant increase in deadly crashes since 2014. Between 2019 and 2022, traffic deaths in northeastern Illinois have increased by an alarming 29%. And while the traffic safety crisis affects everyone, the risk is greater among low-income and Black communities.

Improving traffic safety doesn’t just save lives. When people feel safe walking and biking around their communities, they are less likely to drive — with positive impacts on traffic congestion, public health, air quality, and our environment.

As our region’s metropolitan planning organization, CMAP, plays an important role in traffic safety. ON TO 2050, the comprehensive plan for northeastern Illinois, recommends improving traffic safety. CMAP is federally required to set traffic safety targets and program transportation funds to meet them. And as a regional convener, CMAP has the ability to work with our partners and communities across northeastern Illinois to take a comprehensive approach to safety.

How will CMAP address safety?

Safe Travel for All Roadmap logo.The Safe Travel for All Roadmap (STAR) is a multiyear effort to improve traffic safety in northeastern Illinois in a comprehensive, equitable, data-informed, and collaborative way. It will focus on speed management and improving safety for people walking, rolling, and riding bicycles.

STAR is primarily funded by a nearly $5 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The program will take three approaches:

  • Develop safety action plans and support implementation
  • Identify and support safe, connected networks for bicyclists and pedestrians and improve connections to transit
  • Increase awareness and focus on a Safe System approach and complete streets standards to protect vulnerable roadway users

Safe System approach: safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, post-crash care, and safer roads. Death and serious injuries are unacceptable, humans make mistakes, humans are vulnerable, responsibility is shared, safety is proactive, and redundancy is crucial.

There is growing support for a Safe System approach, which takes a holistic view of improving traffic safety. It anticipates human mistakes, acknowledges that humans are vulnerable, and promotes redundancies in traffic safety, so if a crash happens, it is less likely to be fatal.

CMAP will also seize the exciting opportunity created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which increases key safety funds by more than 30 percent.

Speed management recommendations

CMAP's Speed Management report explores the factors that contribute to speed-related traffic safety risks and provides recommendations on road design, speed limit policy, education, and equitable enforcement. The report proposes that the region adopt the Safe System Approach to achieve travel safety goals outlined in ON TO 2050, the region’s comprehensive plan. It also informs our region's safety action planning work.

The report presents the following key recommendations: 

  • Improve roadway design and capacity guidance to reduce speeding and exposure to safety risks 

  • Reduce speed limits in urbanized areas where people walk, bike, and use transit 

  • Support safe driving behavior with education and equitable enforcement 

 

Read the Speed Management executive summary

Read the Speed Management full report

Resources

CMAP tools and videos

  • Newsletter
    Safety news.
    Sign up to receive updates from CMAP on traffic safety and the Safe Travel for All Roadmap program.
  • Traffic safety research paper
    This paper explores ways to improve the safety of the region’s roadway system for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
  • Video: Complete Streets: Safe by Design
    This webinar explains how policies and design practices for complete streets can better manage vehicle speeds and create safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Video: How can we design safe and complete streets for all?
    This panel discussion explores how we can design safer streets for all and create more vibrant, walkable communities with an equity lens.
  • Video: Using road design and technology to support pedestrian safety
    This short video, featuring experts at CMAP and the Roadway Safety Foundation, discusses steps communities can take to make travel safer for pedestrians.


  • Podcast: Improving Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
    Victoria Barrett, senior transportation planner at CMAP, joined the GovLove podcast to discuss the traffic safety crisis and how roadway design and other approaches can improve pedestrian safety.
  • Complete streets toolkit
    This toolkit offers guidance on incorporating a complete streets approach into local planning, design, and construction processes. Complete streets meet the needs of all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel.
  • Safety messages for social media
    Download these graphics and post to your social media, newsletters, and other channels to help create a culture of safety in your community.
  • Speed management research paper (coming soon)

Funding

Data

This website from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) provides crash summaries for cities in Illinois.

This IDOT tool highlights intersections and corridors with higher crash counts.

Education and guidance

  • USDOT’s Safe Streets and Roads for All resources
    The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)'s $5 billion grant program to improve safety nationwide has a collection of resources for applicants.
  • National Roadway Safety Strategy
    USDOT outlines its comprehensive approach to significantly reducing serious injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways, roads, and streets.
  • City Limits: Setting Speed Limits on Urban Streets
    Guidance from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) on how city practitioners can strategically set speed limits on urban streets, using a Safe System approach, to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
  • Speed management design treatments
    Guidance from NACTO on design features that can reduce vehicle speeds.
  • Traffic-calming ePrimer
    A thorough review of current traffic calming measures from the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Vision Zero Network
    A nonprofit project to help communities across the nation reach their goals of Vision Zero — eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries — while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all.
  • Bike safety quiz
    Interactive quizzes from Ride Illinois that teach adults, children, motorists, and truck drivers safety techniques, relevant state laws, and how to share the road.

    A person on a bike stops at a stop sign.

Local safety projects

CMAP provides communities in the region with technical assistance to improve safety. Current and upcoming traffic safety projects are:

Project partners

To support this work, CMAP has convened a Traffic Safety Resource Group with the Illinois Department of Transportation, each county's department of transportation, and the Chicago Department of Transportation, as well as nonprofit partners and advocates working on traffic safety, mobility, and equity. This group will continue to meet to provide input and direction on the STAR program.

Contact

For questions, email Lindsay Bayley, program lead for safe and complete streets at CMAP.

To Top
A woman walks down a street with a car and bicyclist

Speed Management executive summary feature card

Speed Management report_feature card