Since September, there have been more than 100,000 traffic crashes on Chicago streets, according to newly released data.
The worst block for traffic crashes? The 100 block of West 87th Street, which sits between two strip malls in Chatham. None of the 124 crashes there involved a death, according to the Chicago Police Department data, which is updated daily and includes every crash recorded by the police.
There are details of every crash, including the date, time, weather and lighting conditions, whether there were injuries and the cause of the crash.
Rebekah Scheinfeld, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, says releasing the data is a move toward transparency and part of push for more analysis that could help the city make headway in its “Vision Zero” initiative aiming at ultimately reducing the number of traffic deaths to zero.
“It’s a big step forward for us and is possible because we streamlined the reporting system,” Scheinfeld says, adding that such information was compiled in the past by the state from police officers submitting reports on paper. “It lets us track data in a number of different ways.”
The city transportation department has used the data to determine areas and stretches of roads that see a high number of crashes, sometimes directing education campaigns toward pedestrians and cyclists or making infrastructure changes including the construction of pedestrian refuge islands at crossings, according to Scheinfeld.
“This level of specificity is not something I’ve ever seen before,” says Alice Grossman, a policy analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C. “There’s a benefit just in terms of making people aware.”
The newly released information does not include expressway crashes, which fall under Illinois State Police jurisdiction.Between Sept. 1, 2017, and July 16, the police department recorded 101,760 crashes. Among other highlights gleaned from that data:
• The police department counted 18,885 injuries resulting from the crashes, 100 of them fatal.
• About 4 percent of crashes involved a vehicle hitting a cyclist or a pedestrian.
• Cellphone use — including texting — was found to be responsible in 188 crashes. More broadly, “distraction from inside the vehicle” as well as from other types of electronic devices was the cause of 817 crashes.
• The police were unable to determine a primary contributor to a crash about 34.6 percent of the time. “Failing to yield right-of-way” was the top known cause of crashes, accounting for 12.1 percent of them. The second-leading cause of crashes was “following too closely,” which accounted for 11 percent.