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Rise in Pedestrian Fatalities Continues With 39 Deaths

Chart: CDOT

At the quarterly Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting this afternoon, Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld announced that Chicago pedestrian fatalities continue to be well above the five-year average for this time of the year.

Between the August MPAC meeting and the end of October there were 12 pedestrian deaths, bringing the total up to 39, according to preliminary data provided to CDOT by the Chicago Police Department. While this is close to the 38 pedestrian fatalities that had occurred by October 31 of 2016, it's significantly higher than the year-to-date average of 31.8 deaths for 2011-2015, according to official data provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, Scheinfeld noted.

The commissioner added that there has been an overall rise in Chicago traffic fatalities this year, with 109 deaths as of October, far above the five-year average of 93.6. There were 101 traffic fatalities by this time in 2016, when the year-end total was 119 deaths. Scheinfeld said that vehicle-vehicle accounted for almost all of the 2016-2017 increase.

A third of the pedestrian fatality cases occurred in high-crash corridors identified in the city's Vision Zero Chicago plan to eliminate traffic deaths, and half of them involved one of the five dangerous driving behaviors identified in the plan, Scheinfeld said. These include speeding, red-light running, failure to yield to pedestrians, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving. "Three additional pedestrian fatalities involved hit-and-run drivers, so we don’t have full information, but the proportion of fatalities related to those five dangerous driving behaviors would probably be higher," the commissioner said.

One bright spot is that Chicago bike crash deaths have dropped this year, with four on-street fatalities compared to six by this time last year. Hopefully this positive trend will continue to the end of the year and beyond.

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