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Intersection Safety a Major Concern in Chicago

In 2009, more than 7,000 fatal accidents occurred at intersections or were intersection-related, according to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. That equaled more than 20 percent of the total fatal motor vehicle accidents that year. Intersection safety is a major area of concern all across the country, particularly in more congested places such as Chicago.

The most dangerous intersection in Chicago sees more than 70,000 cars and trucks cross every day, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. In 2010, it was the site of 63 crashes. The intersection, where 79th Street and South Chicago Avenue meets Stony Island Avenue, is noted for its complexity and for the challenge it presents to drivers and pedestrians, alike. The intersection was the subject of a Master Plan intended to reduce congestion and improve safety, but the city has not found funding for the project.

The 20 Chicago-area intersections that saw the most accidents in 2010 all share one thing in common: they all receive a large volume of traffic. Busy intersections are more likely to be the site of accidents. In addition to greater numbers equaling more accidents, an individual intersection can be dangerous due to an overload of information. Drivers may feel overwhelmed by the need to process substantial information in a short period of time. Bicyclists, pedestrians and other drivers may exacerbate the problem by engaging in dangerous or illegal actions. Intersections contain many distractions and may serve as an excuse for a driver to make a phone call or send a text message, instead of paying attention to the road.

It is important to understand the dangers posed by an intersection. Drivers should be cautious. By obeying the speed limit and all posted traffic signs and signals, drivers can significantly reduce the odds of causing an intersection-related accident.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "The Chicago area's 20 most dangerous intersections," by Tina Sfondeles, 30 April 2012

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