What is the outcome of hit-and-run crashes?


This is the first in a five part series on crash data analysis sponsored by Lawyer Jim Freeman.

Pedestrians and bicyclists involved in hit-and-run traffic crashes with automobiles in Chicago receive more injuries and die more often than pedestrians and bicyclists involved in hit-no-run crashes while drivers and passengers have the opposite outcome. This post attempts to describe the situation of hit-and-run crashes in Chicago.

On Sunday I wrote that 75% of all pedestrian traffic deaths this year were in hit-and-run crashes; it’s important to know that all the offending drivers were later apprehended (note 1). The horrific events on Saturday made me curious: How prevalent are hit and run crashes? I already know that our hit-and-run rate is 28.5% for 2005-2010, but how does that translate into frequency of injuries and fatalities? Are hit-and-run crashes worse for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists? Better than hit-no-run crashes? I ran a few calculations to find the answers. I came up with more questions than answers, but my initial interpretation is that hit-and-run crashes are not much better or worse than hit-no-run crashes when looking at every crash participant combined. Continue reading What is the outcome of hit-and-run crashes?

Fatality Tracker: Two hit-and-run crashes and three deaths in one day


The intersection of LaSalle and Division Streets where Jesse Bradley was killed. Photo may not depict where the crash occurred. Photo by Monika Nevis. 

2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 4 (3 have been from hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

According to my tracking, the city will probably maintain its status as a place with a high frequency of hit-and-run crashes as 75% of all pedestrian fatalities in Chicago this year have been because of hit-and-run drivers.

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, there were two crashes and three deaths, but only one of the three who died was a pedestrian. First, in the early morning at LaSalle Street and Division Street:

A 32-year-old man died after being hit by an SUV driven by a 21-year-old woman…

The woman fled the scene but was caught a couple blocks away, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said. She was driving a Jeep Liberty southbound on LaSalle when she hit the man about 2:30 a.m., Greer said. [Jesse] Bradley was a third year law student at Northwestern University Law School, according to university spokesman Alan Cubbage. Chicago Tribune, 1

Assistant State’s Atty. Ericka Graunke said [Bianca] Garcia had a blood alcohol content of .168, more than double the .08 legal limit, following the early Saturday morning crash. Chicago Tribune, 2

She is charged with felony aggravated driving while under the influence resulting in death, misdemeanor reckless driving and misdemeanor driving under the influence. She is also cited with operating a vehicle without insurance, driving while unlicensed and driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Chicago Tribune, 3

Then in the evening in Brighton Park, chaos:

A horrific scene played out on the Southwest Side Saturday evening after a hit-and-run driver fled one accident [crash] only to plow into a second car, killing a toddler and a 6-year-old inside. In the wake of the 6:30 p.m. crash near 45th and Western, a witness described watching a distraught woman run from victim to victim, trying to help a 19-month-old child still strapped into a car seat lying on the street, the 6-year-old in the back seat of her demolished car and a gasping, bleeding man slumped over the wheel.

The driver of the SUV was arrested and taken to an area hospital for treatment. Chicago Sun-Times

As he [Joey Chavez] drove his 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, he rear-ended a 1997 Dodge Neon on the 4500 block of South Western Avenue that resulted in the death of 10-month-old Julissa Ochoa, 10 months, and her brother Eric, 5, officials said. Chicago Tribune

That’s three hit-and-run deaths in a single day; the first hit-and-run this year was in February on 95th Street near Cottage Grove Avenue. The baby and child are not included in fatality tracker stats at this time because they were in a car, but I think I may change my evolving fatality tracker policy to include hit-and-run deaths of car drivers and passengers.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the hit-and-run rate in Chicago, Since last reporting on hit-and-run rates in December 2011, I’ve calculated some new numbers from additional data and filtered out bike and pedestrian crashes. I will be posting about this later in the week.

See previous articles in the fatality tracker series. Grid Shots is postponed this weekend. 

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. Post updated March 26, at 16:19, to add information about the LaSalle/Division crash. Updated March 27 at 09:16 to add charges filed against Bianca Garcia. Updated March 29 at 01:10 to add updated information about the children who died in the 4500 S Western crash.

A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street


Plan drawings show lack of bicycle accommodations. 

Last year I requested from the city plan drawings for the bridge replacement and road reconstruction at Halsted Street and the north branch canal (near Division Street). Included in the response to my FOIA request were plan drawings from the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering for a complementary project, the reconstruction of Division Street between Cleveland Street (east) and the railroad viaduct by the McGrath Lexus dealer (west).

So no one is caught off guard like some felt in regards to the Fullerton Avenue/Lake Shore Drive project, I wanted to give a heads up for a project that I think lacks consideration of the principles of complete streets and Chicago’s Complete Streets policy. In other words, what is proposed is not a complete street. Continue reading A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street

Does Chicago want to be a bike friendly city or what? (video)


A depiction of what wouldn’t have happened. Photo by flickrknufflo. 

Share the road? What a terrible idea.

The Netherlands is the safest place to travel, on any mode, because they’ve a road design philosophy called “sustainable safety”. One of the principles is to homogenize modes by mass, speed, and direction:

Large differences in speed and mass of different road users in the same space must be eliminated as much as possible. Where speed differences cannot be eliminated types of traffic must be separated. [Read about the four other principles.]

In Chicago and most places in the United States, the philosophy is “share the road” and “good luck”. Continue reading Does Chicago want to be a bike friendly city or what? (video)

Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”


Photo shows Kinzie Street less than two months after opening a protected bike lane here. This represented a new design direction for Chicago’s streets. I explored this direction more in my article for Architect’s Newspaper

“It Starts With Better Design”. I agree.

I said this in Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns and When you build for youngest, you build for everyone. Today’s “Room for Debate” on the New York Times website features four experts talking about how to make cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Each of the four have a different response to the introduction’s strategy for reducing fatalities, which is that New York City should take a “broken windows” theory approach to cracking down on traffic violations. Much credit is given to this theory and the police’s approach to petty crimes in the 1980s and 1990s in reducing crime overall, citywide (read more about this). Continue reading Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”

Two people die while trying to cross the street last week (updated)

Updated 12:53

2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 2
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

Inspired by Ted Rogers’s blog, Biking In LA, and with a desire to give respect to the people who’ve died while walking, cycling, or using transit, I’ll be attempting to track these traffic fatalities. This is the first post of 2012.

It happened Thursday, February 9, 2012, on 95th Street near Cottage Grove Avenue. Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune: Continue reading Two people die while trying to cross the street last week (updated)