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July 2, 2020
Written by: Anthony Ivone
Be Road Wary: Crashes Increase as Illinois Opens
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If you have been an essential employee trying to find something positive during the in the COVID -19 closures, you might have settled on the fact that your commute was taking less time, and traffic was at an all-time low. That is no small favor! Now that Illinois is opening back up, people are venturing out into the world, which means more cars on the road. Citizens must resume more vigilant road habits to minimize the number of crashes on our roads.

Just How Many Cars Are on The Road

Chicago traffic was cut in half back in March after the stay at home orders were implemented. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, traffic is climbing back up toward 2019 levels. Last week traffic was at 77% of the previous year’s numbers.

During the first four days of June, passenger vehicle traffic was 64%, and commercial vehicle traffic was 94%, 2020 forecasts, according to the Illinois Tollway. These numbers are nearly double the number of cars that were on the road in April. With fewer cars on the road, you might have thought the crash rate would have decreased significantly.

How Many Crashes Are We Talking About

Admittedly, there have been fewer crashes in Illinois, but those numbers are rising as we open back up. It is interesting to note that while crash data show lower levels than last year, there have only been eight fewer deaths on Illinois roadways. According to John Risvold (2020), “The majority of fatal crashes fell into three categories: motorcycle crashes, pedestrian crashes, and truck crashes.”

Factors Leading to Fatal Crashes

Speed is a significant factor in Illinois’ fatal crashes. “Traffic congestion helps maintain or decrease the speed that we travel at,” he said. “Now, with the more open roads, people are using that as a ticket for speeds that are certainly unsafe (Bessler, 2020).”

Just because there are fewer cars on the road does not inherently make them safer. Drivers will need to exercise sound judgment and practice safe driving.

How to Stay Safe on The Road

The first thing that drivers should do is remain vigilant of their surroundings and pay careful attention. Always follow posted speed signs regardless of how many cars are visible. Recognizing that surroundings are changing as the state opens back up is critical to safety. There may be more people crossing the roads or riding bikes than there have been in the last few months. Drivers should remain distracted free and keep their eyes on the road.

It is essential to recognize that many people are driving on these roads for the first time in months. Their skills are likely rusty, and they will not be operating in the same way they did before the stay at home orders. As always, follow the road’s laws, pay attention, wear a seat belt, and be careful out there. It is the responsibility of every driver to help keep our roadways safe.

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