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Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Chicago

Posted on May 18, 2022

Vehicle accidents occur in a wide variety of ways throughout Chicago. Unfortunately, many of these incidents are caused by the careless or negligent actions of other drivers. However, car accidents can also be caused by the negligence of those who have a duty to maintain the safety of the roadways. Here, we want to examine the leading causes of car accidents in Chicago, and we hope this information helps you take the steps necessary to avoid disastrous collisions.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, consulting with a motor vehicle accident attorney in Chicago can help you navigate the legal process and seek the compensation you deserve.

Chicago Car Accident Data

When we examine data available from the Illinois Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 81,000 total vehicle accidents in the city of Chicago during the latest reporting year of data on file. Out of these incidents, there were 187 fatalities and more than 21,000 total injuries.

Chicago is a busy place, and vehicle accidents are a part of the reality of living and visiting here. These accidents occur in a wide variety of ways, though most of these accidents are caused by the careless or negligent actions of other drivers.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a problem all over the country, not just here in Chicago. However, Chicago residents and visitors are particularly interconnected when it comes to their mobile devices. Cell phones have been a leading cause of distraction for years, and the problem does seem to be getting worse. Distracted driving affects not only drivers, but also pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and anyone else in the vicinity of the roadway.

According to the CDC, there are three main types of driver distraction:

  1. Visual distraction by taking eyes off the road
  2. Manual distraction by taking hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive distraction by taking minds off of driving

The CDC states that during a recent reporting year, there were more than 424,000 distracted driving accident injuries. Perhaps more alarmingly is data that shows approximately 20% of individuals who died in distracted driving collisions during that year were not in vehicles at all, but rather, individuals on bikes or pedestrians. Data also shows that young adults and teen drivers are more likely to be involved in distracting driving collisions than older drivers.

Alcohol and Drug Impairment

Alcohol and drug impairment have been a leading cause of traffic fatalities in Illinois and Chicago for years. The Illinois DOT statistics show us that there were more than 1,000 alcohol-impaired driving incidents that occurred in the city during the latest year of data on file. Out of these incidents, there were nine fatalities and 379 injuries.

When it comes to drug impairment, we have to examine both illegal and narcotic usage as well as prescription and over-the-counter medication use. Any substance that impairs a person’s ability to operate their vehicle is dangerous.


Speeding is a leading cause of injury accidents throughout the city of Chicago. Drivers are in a hurry, but that does not work well with the congestion of the city. Speeding significantly increases the chance that an injury will occur in an accident, and this is particularly a problem for impacts involving pedestrians and bicyclists, both of which are considered vulnerable roadway users.

Data from the National Safety Council indicates that speed was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021, resulting in more than 12,300 fatalities across the country that year. Crashes are considered “speed-related offenses” if a driver was cited for racing, exceeding the posted speed limit, or driving too fast for conditions.

Aggressive Driving or Reckless Driving

Yes, people do get mad behind the wheel. That happens to all of us. However, when individuals use their vehicles to display their anger, often in the form of road rage, serious injuries can occur. Any form of aggressive driving has the potential to cause injuries to others on the roadway and in the vicinity of the roadway.

Failing to Yield

Failing to yield the right of way is one of the most common traffic violations in Chicago. This can include drivers failing to yield to other vehicles as well as drivers failing to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians. Traffic signs typically make it very clear about who is responsible for yielding to who around the city, and these signs must be adhered to.

Driver Fatigue

Fatigued driving is dangerous driving, of that there is no doubt. Information from the NSC states that while it can be difficult to know how many drowsy driving accidents occur annually, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are more than 328,000 drowsy driving crashes each year. The same data shows that around 109,000 of these incidents result in an injury each year and that there are approximately 6,400 annual fatalities caused by drowsy driving.

Driving while fatigued significantly slows reaction times. The federal government even regulates hours of service for commercial truck drivers and commercial bus drivers specifically to avoid the effects of fatigued driving.

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance matters. Every driver in Chicago should keep their vehicle properly maintained in order to increase roadway safety. At its very basic, vehicle safety should include regular inspection of brakes, tires, headlights, tail lights, brake lights, windshield wipers, and vehicle fluids. Poorly maintained vehicles become hazards on the roadway. Drivers could be held responsible for accidents caused by inadequate vehicle maintenance.

Poor Weather Conditions

Sometimes, conditions outside of a driver’s control contribute to a vehicle accident. Even though drivers cannot control the weather, they can control how they respond to changing weather conditions on the roadway. In Chicago, we always have to be ready for icy and snowy conditions. However, these are not the only hazards. Rain most certainly contributes to major vehicle accidents throughout the year in Chicago. Drivers can take steps to protect themselves and others by operating defensively when there is inclement weather or by not getting in the vehicle at all if they can avoid doing so during a storm or when the roadways are otherwise dangerous.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been injured in a car accident caused by the negligent actions of another individual, reach out to an attorney today. A Chicago car accident lawyer can examine the facts of your case and then help you determine the next steps moving forward. The role of an attorney after a vehicle accident is multifaceted and includes examining every aspect of the claim. Your lawyer can:

  • Thoroughly investigate the incident to determine liability
  • Speak to eyewitnesses to get their statements
  • Handle communication with insurance carriers
  • Negotiate to help you recover a fair settlement
  • Fully prepare the claim for a jury trial

Recovering Compensation After a Collision

Individuals may be able to recover compensation after a Chicago car accident if another individual or entity was at fault for the incident. An attorney will work diligently to help car accident victims recover both economic and non-economic damages. In these situations, this can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Ongoing medical costs
  • Rehabilitation or physical therapy
  • Medications or medical devices
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning potential
  • Property damage expenses
  • Rental vehicle costs
  • Physical pain and suffering damages
  • Emotional and cyclical pain and suffering damages

There is no set amount of compensation paid to crash victims. Rather, there are several factors particular to each specific case that can influence compensation amounts. Some of these factors include the severity of the injuries and how long it takes a person to recover. Other factors can include the level of shared fault between the parties involved as well as insurance policy limitations.

Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Claim in Chicago

Car accident victims must file their claims as promptly as possible. In Chicago, the time limit for filing a personal injury claim against an at-fault party is two years from the date an injury occurs. Failing to file a lawsuit within this time frame will likely cause a case dismissal, leaving the crash victim unable to recover any compensation for their losses.

Keep in mind that insurance carriers will likely have their own internal reporting deadlines. Failing to promptly report a vehicle accident to your insurance carrier could result in a claim delay or, at worst, a complete claim denial.

We encourage you to contact a skilled car accident lawyer in Chicago who can walk you through this process and get your claim filed as promptly as possible.