Officials point to speeding and reckless driving as causes for the increase in fatal crashes.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, traffic deaths are up 10% from 2020, reports Marni Pyke. "State tallies show that 621 people died in vehicle crashes this year as of Thursday compared with 566 between Jan. 1 and July 22, 2020. There were 554 fatal crashes as of Thursday this year and 519 in the same time period in 2020."
Officials say "it will take some time for the complete data behind the numbers to emerge," but "we do know anecdotally from law enforcement that speeding and reckless driving likely increased with deadly consequences during the pandemic, and continues as more cars are on the road in Illinois and throughout the country," said IDOT spokeswoman Maria Castaneda.
The department added that "[n]early 39% of traffic deaths occurred on city streets, and nearly 27% took place on federal or state routes." According to Joseph Schwieterman, "[p]eople are driving more outside of normal rush hour when the travel speeds tend to be high. That is making accidents more deadly."
Advocates like Jim Merrell of the Active Transportation Alliance say that poor road design enables speeding, and that "[s]olutions could include bike lanes, crosswalks and narrowing traffic lanes" to slow cars and provide safer infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
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