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6 Pedestrians Killed In July Alone In Chicago As Experts Blame Distracted Driving, More Cars On Roads

One-third of the 23 pedestrian deaths so far this year happened while the pedestrians were in a marked crosswalk, officials said.

Pedestrians cross the street at new crosswalks installed at Wicker Park's main hub in September 2018.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The deaths of six pedestrians on Chicago’s streets in July erased gains from the first six months of 2019, according to data compiled by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Between Jan. 1 and July 31, 23 pedestrians were killed in the city. Six of those deaths occurred in July, the deadliest month for Chicago pedestrians since April 2018, when eight pedestrians were killed, according to data presented Thursday to the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council.

In June, city officials had celebrated a 40 percent drop in pedestrian deaths in the first five months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.

“Unfortunately, it just takes one bad month,” Chicago Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner Sean Wiedel said.

As of July 31, 2018, 24 pedestrians had been killed, Wiedel said.

Safety experts have blamed the rising number of pedestrian deaths on an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, higher speed limits and a growing number of drivers and those on foot distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices.

Nearly two-thirds of those killed died in areas designated by the city as high-crash areas or high-crash corridors, Wiedel said.

That is an indication that the city is concentrating its efforts in the correct areas, Wiedel said.

“It is going to take time to turn it around,” Wiedel said.

Approximately 53 percent of fatal crashes involved a SUV or large truck, Wiedel said.

Only one of the drivers who struck and killed a pedestrian was older than 70 years old, while 70 percent were younger than 40, Wiedel said.

That indicated there is a need for additional education for younger drivers, Wiedel said.

However, three-quarters of pedestrians who died in fatal crashes were older than 50, and 20 percent were older than 80, Wiedel said.

That should serve as a reminder that streets should be designed to “protect the most vulnerable,” Wiedel said.

One-third of the deaths occurred while the pedestrians were in a marked crosswalk, Wiedel said.

Unlike the number of pedestrian deaths, the number of drivers or passengers killed in crashes in in 2019 dropped by 30 percent, continuing a decline, according to the data.