Two years since the implementation of Vision Zero, a program that seeks to eliminate incidents of road fatalities, Chicago and the rest of Illinois have gained ground and reduced the number of accidents and deaths. However, even with the state’s preliminary success, certain factors involving accidents are yet to be addressed.
The Programs Are Working
The number of road accidents in Illinois has dropped in the past two years, clearly showing the program’s significant impact. Chicago is close to its goal of providing 300 safety projects geared towards the protection of pedestrians, which included accessible pedestrian signals (APS) on specific locations around the city. APS systems offer non-visual signals to residents that are blind or have vision problems. Old bike lanes have been repainted, and miles of new bike lanes have been created. The city also launched outreach and education programs to address traffic safety in high-crash areas and business districts. Trucks are now required to install side guards to further reduce accidents involving motorcycles and bicycles.
Motorcycle Fatalities Are Still Alarming
There are more than 8.5 million vehicles in Illinois, and less than 400,000 of those are motorcycles. Motorcycles make up less than 5 percent of all cars account for 15 percent of all crash fatalities. Insurance for your bike might not be as costly as a car’s, but you’ll need another type of insurance once you meet an accident. Motorcycles provide less protection than a car, and the difference in mass often proves disastrous with any contact. Bikers do not have the protection of a 2-ton vehicle around them and can only rely on the protection of their helmets and other protective gear. Bikers are also less visible and can be tagged by another car without the driver noticing. The majority of motorcycle fatalities involve individuals over 45 years old.
Alcohol and Speeding Are Still a Problem
Speeding accounted for a third of all vehicle crashes in Illinois and close to 40 percent of all fatal crashes. Chicago has already installed automated enforcement systems or speed cameras in multiple locations in the city. Speeding fines have gone up to $35 for exceeding the limit up to 10 miles and $100 for exceeding the limit by 11 miles or more. Alcohol has also played a significant role in accidents and fatal crashes. Forty percent of drivers involved in fatalities had alcohol in their system, and that number goes up to 50 percent with regard to motorcycles. Drivers aren’t the only ones getting drunk as more than 10 percent of all cyclists and 42 percent of all pedestrians killed also had traces of alcohol in their system. A DUI conviction comes with fines, interlock devices, higher insurance premiums, and a permanent mark on one’s record. However, these penalties are still not enough to dissuade drinking and driving.
Chicago’s Vision Zero program is working — to a certain extent. However, it needs to address the underlying causes of road accidents and find better ways to mitigate instances of speeding and alcohol use.