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Poor Road Designs Are Killing People in Chicago [infographic]

Bad quality road with potholes. Hole in asphalt. Pit, unsafe, hole road

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In the Chicago area, it is estimated that more than 400 fatalities per year can be attributed to deteriorating road conditions, poor roadway designs, and inadequate traffic control systems. Due to the lack of state funding, many major roads in Illinois are in bad condition and are continuing to deteriorate. Traffic officials are calling for road improvements to reduce road-related fatalities throughout the state.


Chicago Roads are Unsafe

Studies show that about 425 traffic fatalities are attributed to bad roads in Chicago each year. Poor roads and traffic congestion cost the average Chicago driver almost $2,500 per year. Due to the high number of accidents and fatalities, the Illinois Department of Transportation is calling for improvements on roads and highways, especially on Interstate 80 where there is heavy truck traffic.

Local traffic studies done with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce show bad road conditions in both urban and rural areas throughout the state. Some of the worst conditions were found in Chicago areas where only 22 percent of roads were reported in good condition. Among six studies on road safety, Chicago had the lowest rating.

Improving Traffic Safety

When new roads and Interstates are constructed, traffic safety is a crucial component of transportation planning. There are numerous factors that put drivers at risk when traveling on Interstates, highways, two-lane roads, and city streets. Risk factors include:

  • The amount of traffic
  • The types of vehicles
  • The type of travel
  • The road conditions
  • The driver’s skill and behavior

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Other factors taken into consideration are unsafe vehicles, bad weather conditions, drunk and/or impaired driving, and distracted driving. All of these conditions increase a driver’s risk of traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends ways to improve road conditions, but funding often prevents recommended safety measures.

Rumble Strips

Rumble strips on center lines and shoulders warn motorists of lane departures by creating a loud noise and vibration when tires hit the strip. Rumble strips reduce side-swipe accidents by 14 percent and “run off the road” crashes on freeways by 38 percent.

Safety Edges

Sloped safety edges on outer road edges reduce the possibility of drivers losing control of the car and running off the road. At high speeds, these traffic mishaps often result in rollover crashes with serious injuries and fatalities.


Roundabouts reduce car crashes by as much as 87 percent. Roundabouts eliminate the need for stoplights and produce better traffic flow.

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