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Illinois’ Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections

Published on November 25th, 2020

With holiday travel approaching and winter weather well on its way, it is a good time to remind drivers and pedestrians to be alert – especially on roads and intersections that deem themselves most dangerous. For perspective, not only are there over 300,000 car accidents in Illinois annually but Chicago is one of the top 10 cities for pedestrian accidents and fatalities in the US. Many expressways and intersections can be dangerous in normal conditions but add snow, sleet and ice and the chances of something bad happening increases exponentially. The following article will provide you with insight into areas where you need to be extra cautious along with some tips to keep you safe on the road.

Three Most Dangerous Roads in Illinois

 Created in 2005, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is a regional planning organization for northeastern Illinois. One of CMAP’s initiatives is a roadway analysis and in conjunction the organization produces detailed scans of weekday congestion on expressways in the Chicago area by visualizing speed at five-minute intervals throughout a typical day. It also provides crash scans showing the number of crashes that occurred per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) between at points one-tenth of a mile apart along almost all of the expressways and tollways in the region (data available from 2008 and 2012).

Previous scan analysis validated that interchanges and merge/diverge locations are where more crashes tend to occur. As an example, on the Eisenhower Expressway, lanes associated with Central Avenue and Austin Boulevard along with the left-hand off ramps at Austin and IL 43 are responsible for higher crash rates than anywhere else on the westbound Eisenhower. Understanding crash data is critical for planning and will feed into the long-term regional plan for the metropolitan Chicago area well into 2050.

While of no surprise, due to high volume of traffic partnered with design complexity, the following expressways also have much higher crash rates than any other expressway in the state of Illinois:

  • Stevenson Expressway: I-55 is a major north-south interstate and is one of the most congested segments in the Chicago area. Stevenson is renowned for a massive number of deadly crashes involving cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.
  • Dan Ryan Expressway: Branching off from I-90, the Dan Ryan runs through the heart of Chicago and the road can have up to 300,000 vehicles at one time. While the Dan Ryan boasts of width with 14 lanes of traffic (seven in each direction, with four of those as express lanes and the other three providing access for exit and on-ramps), the road is prone to traffic jams and significant number of accidents.
  • Kennedy Expressway: I-190 is almost 18 miles long and runs in a southeast–northwest direction between the central city neighborhood of the West Loop and O’Hare International Airport.
  • Eisenhower Expressway: I-290 is located in Cook County and extends approximately thirteen miles centered along I-290 from the I-88 and I-290 split on the west to Racine Avenue on the east and passes through Chicago, Bellwood, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Oak Park, and Westchester.
  • Elgin O’Hare Tollway, Renamed Illinois Route 390: While Illinois Route 390 is a short stretch of highway it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in Illinois. In 2013 the Elgin O’Hare Western Access (EOWA) construction project commenced to help improve safety and at the same time reduce traffic congestion.

While the following tips apply to almost any type of driving, some are more important when you are on high traffic roads:

  • Monitor Speed: On the highway, speed limits can range from 50 to 70mph so it is important to observe speed limits to be sure you’re traveling at the posted limit. Speed limit changes can be a sign of areas that are more dangerous. As always, adjust your speed when driving through poor weather conditions such as ice, rain and snow, as well as construction and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  • Maintain Safe Distance: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you should leave at least 3 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you (approximately a 1.5 car lengths) in the event the driver in front of you comes to a quick stop. Leave even more space when road conditions are poor.
  • Maximize Visibility: Avoid driving in someone’s blind spot and be aware of your own blind spots while driving and changing lanes. Either leave your headlights on all the time or turn them on when the sun sets until sunrise or when driving through adverse weather conditions, like rain, sleet, snow and fog.
  • Stay To the Right: The left lane is considered a passing lane and if you’re not passing, then you need to move to the right line.
  • Be Cautious With Semi Trucks: It’s estimated that there are over 3 million truck drivers in the US with many averaging around 45,000 miles per year. Due to size and blind spots, truckers might not see you and if they may lose control if they need to break suddenly. Steer clear of semi trucks and most importantly give them room on the road.
  • Be Alert: Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents – when you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times.
  • Maintain Your Vehicle: Check your tire pressure, make sure all your lights are working and fluid levels are topped off. Check belts, hoses and wiper blades for wear and tear.

Dangerous Intersections In Chicago

Driving is an inherently dangerous activity but adding in an intersection, drivers find themselves in one of the most hazardous situations on the road. In fact, intersections increase one’s risk of being involved in a car accident, with all the speeding up, switching lanes, and abruptly stopping that often takes place. Every year, nearly 2.5 million accidents occur in intersections. It is estimated by The Federal Highway Administration that nearly 23% of all fatal automobile accidents occur at intersections, as well. Most of these accidents involve a driver making a left turn or running a red light. Running a red light alone causes 165,000 accidents and between 700-300 fatalities each year.

There are many factors that can deem an intersection as dangerous. A few of those factors are but not limited:

  • Poor street lighting can make it difficult to see any pedestrians, bikers, signs, or obstructions.
  • Too many lanes can cause confusion on which direction one is trying to go.
  • Unclear signs / directions cause additional confusion.
  • Dysfunctional lights or traffic signals can create confusion and chaos for drivers.
  • Missing crosswalks make it difficult to see pedestrians or bikers.
  • Poor street design is to blame for roughly 23% of all intersection accidents.

Most intersection accidents are simply caused by drivers making minor mistakes, which oftentimes have a large consequence. Intersections are not just dangerous for drivers, but for all in the area, like pedestrians and bikers.

In a large and busy city like Chicago it is important to always pay attention while driving and to be extremely aware of your surroundings, especially while driving through intersections. Remember, you can always slow down to be sure you are safe and doing the right thing.

Below are the top five most dangerous intersections in Chicago, according to Timeout. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these intersections to be extra cautious and aware next time you find yourself driving through one of them!

  • Belmont and Kedzie: This intersection is located below the Kennedy expressway underpass. It is considered one of the most dangerous intersections in Chicago because it is difficult to see cars that are entering or exiting the expressway, and they seemingly come out of nowhere, as drivers have described.
  • Cicero and I-55: Right near Midway, drivers are always rushing to get to or from the airport. This intersection is known to have the most profitable red-light camera in Chicago; and of course, running more red lights means more accidents.
  • Irving Park, Cicero and Milwaukee: This intersection is known as the “triple threat”, dangerous for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians. It is known to be dangerous because of its six corners, and cars coming from many directions.
  • North, Damen, and Milwaukee: This intersection in Wicker Park is known for the many pedestrians and bikers to look out for. There is often heavy traffic around all three of these intersections.
  • Stony Island, 79th, and South Chicago: This intersection is not only the most dangerous in Chicago, but the most dangerous in Illinois. This is a six-way intersection beneath a few exit ramps for the Chicago Skyway and borders four neighborhoods: Avalon Park, Greater Grand Crossing, South Shore, and South Chicago. This is notoriously dangerous because it is hard to tell when cars are coming, and making a left turn is a gamble.

Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person or entity, our experienced attorneys can help you receive compensation for the damages you have suffered. Get a free case review by calling 866-699-3339 ‌or‌ ‌complete‌ ‌the‌‌ ‌case‌ ‌request‌ ‌form‌.‌  

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