Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) is teaming up with the Chicago Police Department to implement a new nighttime pedestrian accident reduction program. This innovative effort will focus on areas of the city that have had a high number of pedestrian accidents.
Analysis of Chicago nighttime pedestrian accident data for 2005-2007 found four areas of the city with high numbers of accidents: River North, Austin, Wrigleyville, and 79th Street (Ashland to the Dan Ryan Expressway). Several factors were involved in these accidents including speeding, alcohol use, and inattentive drivers. In the Wrigleyville neighborhood, alcohol use and driver inattention were the two main factors in pedestrian accidents. These four areas of the city will be targeted in the nighttime pedestrian accident campaign.
Efforts to reduce the number of nighttime pedestrian accidents include increased speed limit enforcement, education outreach to bars, restaurants and taxi companies, and continuation of the crosswalk enforcement initiative. Undercover police officers posing as pedestrians will be making sure that motorists yield to pedestrians in crosswalks as required by law. Motorists who fail to yield to a pedestrian in crosswalk can face fines from $50 to $500. Pedestrian safety-related improvements include speed humps and curb bumpouts to slow vehicles, pedestrian-countdown signals that let a person know how much time they have to finish crossing the street, and new pavement markings.
The nighttime pedestrian accident reduction program is being conducted in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Western Michigan University (WMU). The program is being paid for with federal funds received by WMU. The program will use off-duty police officers and will be ongoing through the fall.