November 18, 2019

Chicago Department of Transportation Joins City and State Partners to Hold Memorial Event Honoring World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Crash Victims

Chicago Department of Transportation and AARP Joined Secretary of State, Illinois Department of Transportation and Vision Zero Chicago Partners at event to remember crash victims in Chicago

Mike Claffey    312.744.0707 | Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org

Susan Hofer    312.742.2006 | Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org

CHICAGO—The City of Chicago and State of Illinois today honored World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. To commemorate victims, CDOT erected a display of 77 pairs of shoes for each of the lives lost to traffic crashes in Chicago so far this year. The event was hosted by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and AARP, two key partners in Vision Zero Chicago, who were joined by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Vision Zero Chicago is a coordinated effort between City departments and state and local organizations working toward the shared goal of eliminating deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes by 2026.

“Traffic crashes are traumatic, costly incidents that happen every day, and far too often cause irrevocable damage, destroy lives and tear families apart,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “But traffic crashes aren’t just accidents, they’re preventable occurrences. I am proud that here in Chicago we are implementing our Vision Zero program throughout our communities and neighborhoods to keep more residents safe and will continue to do everything we can to ensure these incidents finally become a thing of the past.”

World Day of Remembrance is a United Nations-sponsored, global event held every November in memory of the millions of people killed and injured annually on the world’s roads. In Chicago, more than 2,000 people are killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes each year, with an average of five people seriously injured each day and one person killed every three days.

“As difficult as it is to focus on the lives that have been lost in senseless traffic crashes, we feel it is important that we do so on this international day of remembrance,” said Acting CDOT Commissioner Thomas Carney. “It’s fitting that we focus both on the individual lives that were lost and the pain their loved ones will carry for the rest of their lives. This will spur all of us to recommit to the Vision Zero approach and double our efforts aimed at eliminating these preventable tragedies.”

The Chicago World Day of Remembrance event demonstrates the devastating toll traffic deaths have on Chicago’s residents. Organizers invited families and friends of crash victims to visit the memorial at the Thompson Center to remember their loved ones by offering flowers for the display and recording their stories to help the public better understand the impacts that a fatal traffic crash can have on friends and loved ones left behind.

One of the speakers at the event was Phyllis Mitzen, a Chicagoan who was struck and severely injured by a truck on Michigan Avenue earlier this year.  “My doctors have worked miracles by saving my foot and leg,” she said. “Today I am dependent on my devoted husband Michael to take me out using a wheelchair any time I need to leave our home. I am blessed with family and friends who have been supportive. But having to ask for help on even the most mundane tasks, and not knowing how long I will be dependent, is extraordinarily difficult and an unexpected burden.”

“I’m pleased to join CDOT, IDOT and AARP to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “One death on our roadways is one too many, and my top priority is addressing and improving road safety. Our efforts have resulted in a significant decrease in teen driver fatalities, tougher laws for drunk and distracted driving and increased bicycle safety awareness. By working together to promote public education and ensure vigilant law enforcement efforts, we can reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in Illinois.”

The Vision Zero Chicago Action Plan is based on the principles of the international Vision Zero movement.  It incorporates traffic crash data, identifies the greatest opportunities for change, and establishes the City’s priorities and resources for addressing this public health challenge.

Using crash data, the plan identified 43 High Crash Corridors and eight High Crash Areas in Chicago. Of the High Crash Areas, seven of the eight are on the West and South Sides of the City and one is downtown, where the higher crash rate is due, in part, to the larger numbers of vehicles and people.  The data shows that people who live in areas of high economic hardship are three times as likely to die as a result of a traffic crash.

“Today is a solemn reminder of the lost hopes and dreams of those who died in crashes that are almost always avoidable,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “These deaths serve as painful reminders that we all play a role in making our roads as safe as possible throughout the state, inspiring all of us to continue striving toward the goal of zero fatalities.”

“Nobody should have to deal with the personal trauma and crippling economic impact of traffic crashes, said Julia Gerasimenko, Advocacy Manager for the Active Transportation Alliance. “Every one of these crashes is preventable if we invest in policies and projects to fix the city’s most dangerous streets, which are largely on the South and West Sides.”

“AARP is passionate about working with Vision Zero to reduce — and eliminate — pedestrian fatalities in Chicago,” said Mary Anderson , Chicago Director AARP Illinois, who added that while older Americans make up only 13 percent of the population, they represent a significantly higher percentage of pedestrian fatalities.

In 2019, Vision Zero Chicago released the West Side High Crash Area community plan, funded through a grant from the National Safety Council and began implementation of safety improvement recommendations. A Downtown High Crash Area planning process was also completed in 2019 with planning beginning in the South Side High Crash Areas of Englewood and Washington Park (West Englewood, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, and Washington Park) early next year. Funding was also secured for a planning process in the Near Northwest Side High Crash Areas (Belmont-Cragin, Humboldt Park and West Town).

The City of Chicago has recorded progress in reducing crashes in 2019.  According to Chicago Police Department data there has been a 27% reduction in fatal crashes through the end of October, from 105 to 77 fatalities.

To view the Vision Zero Chicago Action plan, go to chicago.gov/visionzero.

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