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With deadly traffic crashes surging, state and local transportation leaders in Illinois are doubling down on efforts to end traffic fatalities.
In the United States, traffic fatalities are up 18% since before the pandemic. In Illinois, fatal crashes are up over 11% from the previous year and up 32% over the last two years. In the seven-county region of northeastern Illinois, traffic-related fatalities are up 41% since 2019.
Data also shows that Black and Native American pedestrians are disproportionately killed in the United States, as compared to white pedestrians. In northeastern Illinois, Black residents represent over 25% of traffic deaths — but just 18% of the region’s population.
In recognition of National Pedestrian Safety Month in October, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in close partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and other transportation partners, is bringing attention to this issue and the collective work being done to address it. National Pedestrian Safety Month also highlights the disparities in pedestrian safety and the importance of equity in road safety for all.
“At IDOT, the only acceptable number of traffic deaths in Illinois is zero,” Sec. Osman said. “Thanks to Gov. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois capital program and historic investments being made at the federal level, we have a once-in-life opportunity to work collectively and innovatively to drive down fatalities.”
CMAP, in partnership with IDOT and counties across the region, recently applied for close to $5 million to develop County Safety Action Plans under the Safe Streets and Roads for All Discretionary Grant Program, funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman said, “If successful in our grant application, CMAP will be able to support the counties in developing comprehensive safety action plans aimed at preventing roadway fatalities and serious injuries. Customized for each county’s safety needs, the regional program (named Safe Travel for All Roadmap, or STAR) will be transformative for improving the travel safety of everyone in our region — especially our most vulnerable travelers.”
Each County Safety Action Plan will leverage CMAP’s best practice research and analysis, data resources, and technical expertise. These plans will then enable our counties (and their municipalities) to compete for the $1 billion in competitive safety funds available annually through the IIJA.
Aleman added, “The pandemic changed travel demand and travel behavior in many ways. And despite a dramatic reduction in vehicle miles traveled, we saw fatalities spike. There are many factors that are contributing to this sharp increase, including speeding (on less congested roads due the pandemic), impairment, and not using a seatbelt.”
Local transportation agencies are also working to raise public awareness around this issue by consistently sharing safety messages through social media and other mediums.
Bureau Chief of Programs, Projects & Safety Outreach
Illinois Department of Transportation
Deputy, Communications & Engagement
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)