The Top 3 Most Dangerous Roads in Chicago, Illinois

What makes a road dangerous?

Many factors make a particular road dangerous: traffic congestion, excessive speed, drowsy drivers, distracted drivers, and drunk drivers. However, the greatest risk for injury or death isn't a single road. It’s intersections.

The Top 3 Most Dangerous Roads in Chicago, Illinois

Anywhere two or more roads converge with numerous turns is inherently more dangerous than a single street. When you add pedestrians, cyclists, impatient motorists, and tourists visiting one of the most famous cities in the country, the result is three intersections rife with injury and death.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 50 percent of all accidents occur at intersections. In Chicago, three intersections have the dubious honor of being the most dangerous roads.

Collision Volume & Injury Severity

The Chicago Journal reported the highlights of a traffic study based on the collision risk index (CRI). Researchers combined the sheer number of accidents (collision volume) with the risk for serious injury to arrive at a particular location's CRI.

The higher the CRI rating, the deadlier the road. Researchers focused on traffic volume, injuries, and fatalities from 2018-2020.

Keep reading to learn about Chicago's most hazardous roads.

East 79th Street & South Stony Island Avenue

CRI: 293

More accidents with injuries happen at East 79th Street and South Stony Island Avenue than anywhere else in Chicago. This intersection is the stuff of traffic nightmares: a six-way intersection with numerous exit and entrance ramps to the Chicago skyway, three bus routes, and no designated bicycle lanes. From 2018 to 2020, there were 196 documented crashes with nine severe injuries, 52 injuries, and one fatality.

East 95th Street & South Stony Island Avenue

CRI: 229

The second highest CRI score is at one of the city's busiest intersections. East 95th Street's lack of sidewalks makes it dangerous for pedestrians. At the same time, wider lanes invite excessive speed, despite numerous red-light cameras. There were 160 accidents, 44 total injuries, and one death from 2018 to 2020.

West Garfield Boulevard & South Wentworth Avenue

CRI: 220

In third place is West Garfield Boulevard and South Wentworth Avenue. Multiple lanes of traffic converge, with impatient drivers often unwilling to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. From 2018 to 2020, there were 141 reported crashes and 55 injuries, including six people with serious injuries.

Leading Causes of Dangerous Roads

The same factors that make a single road dangerous multiply at intersections.

The ten most common causes of Chicago traffic accidents are:

1. Failure to yield

2. Tailgating (following too closely)

3. Driving too fast

4. Inferior driver training or skills

5. Incorrect passing procedures

6. Improper backing up

7. Improper lane change or inability to stay in lane

8.  Lack of turn signals

9.  Ignoring traffic signals

10.  Inclement weather

Accidents, Injuries & Deaths on the Rise in Chicago

2020 was one of the deadliest years for traffic deaths in Chicago, with 139 fatalities, a 45 percent increase from the previous year. Statewide, there were 1,195 traffic fatalities, the highest rate in five years. Would you happen to need a truck or car accident lawyer? 

One of the primary reasons for this jump in traffic deaths could be Covid-related. Fewer drivers were on the road, which prompted many motorists to speed.

Safety Campaigns to Reduce Injury & Fatalities

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is stepping up education and enforcement to decrease traffic accidents and injury.

The following safety campaigns are the state’s top priority.

1. Drop It & Drive

Distracted driving is a growing concern in Chicago and statewide. It is illegal to text or use a hand-held mobile device while driving. Despite that ban, more drivers in Chicago and across the state are texting, talking, checking email, or going online while behind the wheel.

IDOT's "Drop It & Drive" campaign wants to make motorists aware of the risks and consequences of using their cell phones and driving.

2. Buckle Up Illinois

Drivers and passengers who wear seat belts for every trip are more likely to survive a crash with reduced injuries. Illinois has a "click it or ticket" program to encourage seat belt usage. The state also helps parents and caregivers protect children with appropriate child seats and devices.

3. Drive Sober

Anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent is considered legally intoxicated. IDOT's Alcohol Awareness Program, "Drive Sober," hopes to reduce the number of impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.

4.  Pedestrian Safety Programs

Chicago is a friendly city but not always accommodating for pedestrians. The state's "Safe Routes to School" is one way to help make city roadways safer for pedestrians.

What To Do After a Traffic Accident

It’s hard to think clearly when you’re involved in an accident, especially at dangerous intersections. Here are a few simple things you should do in the event of an accident.

1. Stay at the Scene

Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it was not your fault. You have to remain at the scene and offer medical aid for those who need it.

2. Get Medical Help

Your priority after any car accident is seeking medical attention. The emergency medical technicians (EMT) will take you to the nearest hospital if you are severely injured. For less severe injuries, you should still see a licensed medical professional as soon as possible.

Common Accident Injuries

  • Concussion
  • Whiplash
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Soft tissue sprains and injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Burns
  • Back and neck injuries

3. Call the Police

The police will likely arrive along with the EMTs. If not, call them. Responding officers must take down everyone’s information and file a report. You might need a copy of the crash report if you file an insurance claim or file an auto insurance claim appeal letter.

4. Take Pictures

Use your cell phone to take photos or videos of the accident scene. Try to include location information, like street signs or landmarks. Photograph anything that you think might be useful if you file an insurance claim or want to take legal action: skid marks, broken glass, smashed guardrail, and your damaged vehicle.

5. Keep all Documentation

While compensation might be the furthest thing on your mind after an accident, the reality is that someone has to pay for your medical care, lost pay, and property damage. Keep all receipts and medical documentation—the insurance company will want proof of your injuries and losses.

Be Prepared

Even if you stay away from Chicago’s three most dangerous roads, there is no guarantee that you won’t be involved in a car crash. If you’re injured, you could find yourself with a mountain of medical bills and other expenses. Depending on the circumstances, you might file an insurance claim with your insurance or the other party’s.

Should you get pushback from the insurance company about your claim, consider talking to a car accident lawyer. Illinois has liability laws that could work in your favor if the accident was not your fault.