2017 Has Been a Deadly Year for Pedestrians, With 27 Fatalities So Far

A recycling truck in an alley near Randolph and Michigan last week. Photo: John Greenfield
A recycling truck in an alley near Randolph and Michigan last week. Photo: John Greenfield

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This year Chicago had seen 27 pedestrian fatalities as of July 31, according to preliminary police data, Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld reported at last week’s Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting. That represents a 30 percent increase over the average of 20.8 deaths by the same date from 2011-2015, based on official state data.

At the previous quarterly MPAC meeting Scheinfeld had reported 14 Chicago pedestrian deaths as of April 30, based on police records, and at this meeting she reported that four people on foot were fatally struck in May, four in June, and five in July. The 27 pedestrian deaths so far in 2017 are comparable to the 26 pedestrian fatalities by this time last year, Scheinfeld said. But she added that the fact that the number is significantly higher than the previous five-year average is “obviously a significant concern.”

The commissioner added that total Chicago traffic fatalities are also up 20 percent this year, from the previous average of 66 by the end of July to 79 so far this year.

MPAC-August-2017-Presentations

While in the past the majority of fatal pedestrian crashes have taken place at intersections, 77 percent of the 13 people killed on foot from May through July of this year were struck mid-block, Scheinfeld said. Another anomaly is that more than half of these 13 pedestrian fatalities happened between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., which she said is higher than usual. Almost half of the May-July crashes occurred in parts of town designated as high crash areas in the city’s Vision Zero Chicago plan to eliminate traffic deaths by 2026.

The commissioner added that about 40 percent of these 13 pedestrian fatality cases were hit-and-run crashes. 69 percent of the deaths involved one or more of the five most dangerous driving behaviors highlighted in the Vision Zero plan, which notes that at least 72 percent of all Chicago traffic fatalities are attributable to these issues. The five driving behaviors include distracted driving, speeding, failure to obey traffic signals, failure to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and driving under the influence.

Dominique Wilbourn, 39, struck and killed in Chatham Saturday by a hit-and-run driver, was the first media-reported Chicago pedestrian fatality in August. We’ll provide an update on the case on Tuesday.

This post is made possible by a grant from Freeman Kevenides, a Chicago, Illinois personal injury law firm representing and advocating for bicyclists, pedestrians and vulnerable road users.  The content belongs to Streetsblog Chicago, and Freeman Kevenides Law Firm neither endorses nor exercises editorial control over the content.

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