Nearly 30% of Chicago’s pedestrian fatalities occur in crosswalks

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Chicago is a sprawling metropolis filled to the brim with both local traffic and vacationers. Whether people are simply walking to get something to eat during their lunch break or taking in the sights of our museums, sculptures or architectural marvels, pedestrians are at risk for serious injury in a motor vehicle collision.

No matter the size or type of vehicle involved, a pedestrian will suffer the most devastating injuries in a collision. These injuries can include brain damage, spinal cord trauma, amputation or paralysis. Depending on certain factors, the collision can result in pedestrian fatalities.

The Pedestrian Plan

Since implementing the Pedestrian Plan in 2012, city officials have made several improvements to pedestrian traffic. From marked crosswalks and timed countdown signals to the implementation of in-road crosswalk signs and pedestrian refuge islands, the city has made strides toward improving pedestrian safety. But is it enough?

While a recent report highlighted the dramatic decrease in motorist deaths from 2018 to 2019, pedestrian deaths remained virtually unchanged. There were 41 pedestrian deaths in 2018 and 40 pedestrian deaths in 2019. During the first half of the year, pedestrian deaths were trending downward. Unfortunately, there were 13 fatalities in July and August that dramatically increased the year’s total. As of the first week in August 2021, there have been 21 pedestrian deaths – again on pace to reach 40 fatalities by the end of the year.

Are crosswalks not safe?

Perhaps most shockingly, nearly a third of the pedestrian fatalities in the 2019 report were people who were killed while walking in a marked crosswalk. This is an unnerving statistic for many reasons. Countless pedestrians rely on drivers to understand and follow traffic safety rules. To their own detriment, pedestrians might assume the driver is paying attention and step into the crosswalk while still in danger.

Unfortunately, numerous drivers are distracted, impaired, drowsy or simply reckless while behind the wheel. Pedestrians must take extra care to always remain visible and alert. Chicago has made great strides in many areas in recent years, but pedestrians remain in danger.