Chicago areas with high levels of economic hardship have more than three times the number of fatalities from car crashes per capita as those with low economic hardship. Through innovation, teamwork, education and the enforcement of traffic laws, it is hoped that a significant reduction in traffic hazards in the most dangerous places to drive in Chicago can soon be realized.
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Vision Zero Chicago
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working on city plans that concentrate on infrastructure, enforcement, and education in neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by traffic accidents. The goal of Vision Zero Chicago is to eliminate preventable traffic accidents and fatalities by 2026. Statistics show that between 2010 and 2014, over 500 people were killed and nearly 9,500 were injured in Chicago car crashes, accounting for more than 108 fatalities each year.
According to Chicago Department of Public Health data, the number of traffic fatalities in city areas with increased economic hardship is over three times higher than other areas of the city. CDOT plans to focus on such hard-hit areas to prevent serious car crashes. Areas singled out for special attention include: Austin; Belmont Cragin; East and West Garfield Park; Grand Boulevard; Humboldt Park; Near North Loop; Near West Side; North Lawndale; Washington Park; West Englewood; and West Town. According to CDOT, these areas contain 25 percent of Chicago’s population, but account for at least 36 percent of serious car crashes within the city.
Vision Zero Chicago is a three-year action plan that will focus on traffic safety and fatal car crashes linked to speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, disobeying traffic signs and signals, wrong-way driving, and failure to yield the right of way. Plans will also focus on safety for Chicago residents who commute by walking and biking. To promote pedestrian safety, the city plans to improve 300 intersections by adding pedestrian islands, walk signal countdown times, curb bump-outs, and 50 miles of bike lanes.
Chicago also hopes to eliminate crash fatalities involving public transit such as CTA buses, taxis, ride-share services, and city vehicles. Vision Zero Chicago will offer special training to CTA bus drivers, city fleet drivers, and other city-regulated drivers to educate them on safety rules and regulations. By providing training for safer driving and promoting vehicle and equipment safety, Chicago hopes to significantly reduce accidents and injuries involving city-operated vehicles.