Because it reveals that traffic fatalities in the suburbs in 2015–the latest year for which statistics are available–outnumbered those in Chicago by a margin of nearly 3 to 1. This is shocking to suburbanites who assume that Chicago, with its snarl of traffic, is a much more dangerous place to drive.
So why is this happening? The answer lies in the fact that “Suburban communities have more people driving more cars at faster speeds on roads that are often designed to maximize travel speeds at the expense of public safety.” according to Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance.
The statistics back this up: During 2015, the suburbs saw a total of 301 traffic fatalities versus 119 in the city of Chicago. When broken down, the suburban numbers include: 228 motorists, 59 pedestrians, and 14 bikers who perished as a result of traffic accidents. Compare that to the Chicago statistics which include: 66 motorists, 46 pedestrians and 7 bikers who died during the same period, and you can see that the suburbs are a more dangerous place to drive.
None of these statistics are acceptable. Burke suggests more enforcement of traffic laws and streets designed with safety in mind for everyone who uses them. This should include considering pedestrian and biker safety, as well as reviewing speed limits on all roads.
Recently, the City of Chicago joined an international movement and adopted a Vision Zero Action Plan to work towards eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026. It’s time for the communities in the suburbs to follow Chicago’s lead and put together their own action plan to make suburban streets safer for everyone.