Pedestrian deaths in Illinois and around the country reached a 40-year high in 2021, and figures for the first half of 2022 are even more grim. According to a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association, these fatalities in the first six months of 2022 rose by a further 5%. American motorists now strike and kill about 19 pedestrians every day, and there is little evidence to suggest that the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths is a temporary trend.
Dangerous driving habits
During the first six months of 2013, 2,141 pedestrians lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. In 2020, that six-month pedestrian death toll had risen by almost 60% to 3,434. According to the GHSA, the rise in pedestrian deaths is being caused by dangerous driving habits picked up in 2020 when travel restrictions all but emptied the nation’s roads of traffic as well as the growing popularity of large pickup trucks and SUVs.
Chicago pedestrian deaths
Traffic accidents in Chicago in the first half of 2022 killed 31 pedestrians and cyclists. This worrying death toll has prompted road safety advocacy groups including the Active Transportation Alliance to urge the Chicago Department of Transportation to invest more in cyclist and pedestrian safety. So far, the CDOT has vowed to spend $20 million of the money it is expected to receive from the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on improving bicycle lanes and launching community outreach programs.
The goal of Chicago’s Vision Zero initiative is to eliminate traffic accident deaths in the city entirely. The initiative was launched almost five years ago, and things are only getting worse. The GHSA is not the only road safety group that has blamed the rise in accident deaths on speeding and dangerous driving, which suggests that more rigorous law enforcement could do more to solve the problem than community outreach efforts.