Chicago officials are launching a new program to help reduce roadway crashes and eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office announced the program this week at the site of a pedestrian refuge island installed at Chicago Avenue and Lamon Avenue as a part of a Safe Routes to School infrastructure project.
Officials say it’ll approach traffic safety as a public health challenge by using data and involving several city agencies. For the first three years, agencies will examine traffic crash data and look at areas to improve.
Chicago officials say there’s been a decline in traffic crashes over the last decade nationally and in Chicago. However, officials say the downward trend has recently leveled off.
As part of the planning for Vision Zero Chicago, the City has used crash data to identify 43 High Crash Corridors and eight High Crash Areas. Of the High Crash Areas, seven of the eight are on the West and South Side of the city, with the remainder being downtown where the higher crash rate is correlated with higher density and higher volumes of vehicles and pedestrians. In addition, the data shows that people who live in areas of high economic hardship are three times as likely to die as a result of a traffic crash.
The Vision Zero Action Plan lays out four key goals and specific strategies to achieve these goals:
- Invest in communities that are most affected by severe traffic crashes.
- Work to change behaviors and perceptions to build a culture of a safety.
- Make streets safer for all users.
- Encourage and implement policies, training and technologies that create safer vehicles and safer professional drivers.
According to the city, more than 2,000 people are either killed or seriously injured in Chicago traffic crashes each year.
Under the three year plan, CDOT is committed to improving 300 intersections to make them safer for pedestrians, who are the most vulnerable roadway users. CDOT will also work with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to improve access and safety at 25 transit stations, encouraging the use of transit through targeted safety improvements in the vicinity of CTA stations and bus stops, particularly in high crash zones.
Vision Zero will also implement policies, training and technologies that create safer vehicles and safer professional drivers throughout the City, including with drivers in the City’s fleet of vehicles as well as taxi and transportation network provider drivers.
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