Persistent Inequities

Persistent Inequities

The Chicagoans who are exposed to the greatest disparities in human health, economic hardship, and community violence, are also the most likely to die in traffic crashes, regardless of the circumstances.  


In Chicago, communities of color often have the fewest transportation choices, the longest commutes, the highest concentration of industrial centers and truck traffic in their neighborhoods, and the worst pollution from cars and trucks on their streets. 

Black Chicagoans make up less than one third of the city's population. However, nearly two thirds of all people killed in fatal crashes are Black. Graphic of people.

Black Chicagoans are more deeply affected by traffic violence than any other demographic. Regardless of location or circumstances, nearly 2/3 of all people killed in Chicago’s traffic crashes are Black, yet they make up less than 1/3 of Chicago’s population.

Traffic safety is a health equity issue. Black residents in Chicago experience traffic fatalities at a rate of 14 deaths per 100,000 residents. Hispanic residents experience traffic fatalities at a rate of nearly 5 deaths per 100,000 residents. While residents experience traffic fatalities at a rate of 3 deaths per 100,000 reisdents.

Tragically, this pattern is consistent with other stark inequities faced by Black Chicagoans, such as overall life expectancy, diabetes-related deaths, homicide, infant mortality and others reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) 2021 data brief on the State of Health for Blacks in Chicago.

Likelihood that a person killed in a Chicago traffic crash is Black is 61% across all modes, 68% for people killed inside vehicles, 61% for people killed outside of vehicles.

In 2021, black Chicagoans were killed in traffic crashes at 3.8 times the rate when compared to the City's non-black population. 

Data Source: Chicago crash statistics featured in the section above are based on data provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office for 2021.

Geography & Mobility Hardship

Communities most affected by traffic violence also face the biggest barriers to transportation access and economic hardship. To understand and prioritize areas of greatest need, CDOT uses the Mobility and Economic Hardship Index (MOBEC). This tool was created in partnership with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) to identify community areas with the greatest need for focus and investment.

Building on Chicago Department of Public Health’s Economic Hardship Index, CNT applied a public health lens to transportation hardship factors like commute time, percent of population with a disability, and transportation cost as a percent of household income. As a result 30 Community Areas have been identified as experiencing high MOBEC hardship.

Communities with the most mobility and economic hardship experience a higher level of traffic violence. MOBEC areas contain 32% of Chicago's population and 41% of the city's land area. 47% of fatal traffic crashes citywide occurred in MOBEC areas and 47% of fatal crash victims lived in MOBEC areas.

The 30 Community Areas experiencing high MOBEC hardship make up 41% of Chicago's land area and only 32% of the population live there, yet these residents make up 47% of people killed in traffic crashes. 

40% of people killed while walking lived less than a mile way from the fatal crash location.

Of all the people killed while walking in this time period, 40% lived less than mile from site of the crash.

Data Source: Chicago crash statistics featured on this page are based on Chicago Police Department provisional data for 2023.

More Traffic Safety Issues

Vehicle Speed & Size

Two thirds of Chicago traffic deaths involved drivers traveling at high speeds. Over half of pedestrians killed in the city are hit by an SUV or larger vehicle.

Reckless Driving

Nearly 90% of traffic deaths in Chicago involve reckless behavior by people behind the wheel.