While there are fewer cars on the road and fewer car crashes, new data shows that the crashes that are happening are causing more severe injuries than before the pandemic.
According to WGN News, during the first week of March, there were 2,063 reported crashes in Chicago. That number began dropping after March 13, when the federal government declared a national emergency and continued to drop after Illinois’ Stay At Home Order took effect on March 21st. Last week, the number of crashes in Chicago was down to 803. Despite the drop in crashes, there has been an increase in crash severity.
Data from The Northwestern University Transportation Center shows a small increase in severe car crashes over the last month.
Additionally, data shows that in the last couple of weeks, the severity of injuries in pedestrian-related crashes rose significantly, before receding slightly or remaining steady, despite the Stay at Home Order in Illinois. While fewer cars are on the road, the Stay at Home Order allows people to leave their homes for exercise, such as walking or running, leading to more pedestrians and an increased risk for pedestrian-related crashes.
Northwestern University Transportation Center attributes the rise in serious injury crashes and pedestrian crashes to drivers driving faster on less congested roads. As of April 11, there have been 183 fatal crashes in Illinois, resulting in 193 deaths, according to IDOT. This is only one fewer death than the same period of 2019. http://apps.dot.illinois.gov/fatalcrash/snapshot.html. Nearly 20% of these fatalities have been pedestrians hit by cars or trucks. With fewer people driving, but more people taking walks or running to get out of their homes during the Stay at Home Order, the danger to pedestrians only increases.
There are several things you can do to keep safe while driving, or to keep safe while walking.
If you’re driving:
- Drive distraction-free. It can be tempting to look at your phone or take your eyes off the road when there is less congestion. It takes an average of 27 seconds to regain focus and concentration after looking at a phone or using a device while driving. This can mean the difference between life and death.
- Follow the rules of the road. It can appear safe to drive faster or ignore the rules of the road when there is no congestion. However, failure to follow the basic rules of the road is the leading cause of traffic crash accidents.
- Always wear a seatbelt. Failure to wear a seatbelt can lead to major injuries if you are in a crash. A seat belt is designed to protect you and save lives. Always buckle up.
If you’re walking:
- Wear Bright Clothing. It’s important to be especially visible to cars on the road. Wearing dark clothing, especially at night, makes it very difficult for drivers to see you and can lead to pedestrian crashes.
- Stay out of the street, if possible. Where you can, use paths, sidewalks, and trails. Avoiding walking or running in the street can lower your risk of a crash.
- Look both ways before crossing. Be aware of your surroundings, follow traffic signals, and make sure you look both ways before crossing the street.
- Turn down your headphones. If you can’t hear the traffic, or the sound of a car horn, you’re not keeping yourself safe. Make sure your headphones are at a reasonable volume so that you can hear the sounds around you that might warn you of impending danger.
While the pandemic continues to impact Chicago and the surrounding areas, the danger from car crashes and pedestrian accidents is not disappearing. Keep yourself safe by following these tips and remember to stay home to stay safe.
If you have been injured while out walking or running by a driver who was behaving negligently, the car accident attorneys at The Collins Law Firm can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Call us at (630) 527-1595 for a FREE evaluation of your case.