Chicago is a walking city. If you live outside the city and head in daily for work, you know all too well the dangers lurking on city streets. According to new statistics, the hazards to pedestrians in and around the city keep climbing.
What do you need to know when out for a stroll on a city or even rural road in Illinois?
Deaths almost double
In 2017, 47 people died in pedestrian accidents in Chicago, up from 27 deaths in 2013. Chicago is not the only place with a steep increase in fatalities over the same period. Across the country, pedestrian deaths and injuries seem to climb year over year.
Distractions a significant factor
It is too easy these days to get distracted by smartphones. Internet videos showing people falling while attempting to text and walk have gone. However, walking and texting is a major distraction, and when you cross a street, falling or failing to pay attention has horrific consequences.
The transportation department reports that an increase in vehicles and speeding account, in part, for the staggering figure. Distracted driving due to in-car electronics is climbing and one of the primary causes of motor vehicle accidents nationwide.
The city’s plan
In response to the increasing fatalities, city officials developed the Vision Zero plan. The program encourages drivers to sign a pledge that promises, in part:
- To obey the posted speed limit
- To watch out for pedestrians and cyclists at all times
- To follow traffic control devices such as red lights and stop signs
- To slow down approaching crosswalks and come to a full stop if a pedestrian is present
- To keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road
The program also calls for infrastructure improvements in areas with a high number of pedestrians. These upgrades include extending bump-outs at intersections to decrease the distance pedestrians cross a street unguarded.
Keeping an eye out, whether you walk, bike or drive is imperative to improving pedestrian safety. Paying attention is an integral part of staying safe while enjoying the city.