What are the main causes of car accidents in Chicago?

Chicago is a busy city packed with traffic. All of this traffic dramatically raises the risk of a major car accident on any given roadway.

According to statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there were 98,859 car accidents in the city of Chicago in 2018. Of these, 121 accidents resulted in fatalities and 17,732 caused injuries. A total of 132 people died in traffic accidents that year, and 24,400 were injured. Approximately 2,600 of the reported injuries were serious or life-threatening, and 14,010 involved visible injuries that did not incapacitate the victim.

The high volume of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths might lead one to question: what are the main causes of car accidents in Chicago? While the state of Illinois unfortunately does not list the main causes of car accidents in Chicago within their annual reporting, they do provide information concerning the most common accident scenarios.

If you have been injured in an accident, get legal representation from an experienced car accident lawyer in Chicago and seek compensation for all of your losses.

Call (866) 931-2115 today or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review and discuss your options.

Below are some of the most common accident scenarios in Chicago, based upon IDOT data.

Following Too Closely

Rear-end collisions are the most common accident scenario in Chicago by a large margin. There were 27,424 such collisions in the year 2018, making up nearly 28% of accidents overall. While most of these collisions (83%) resulted in just property damages, they still caused 12 deaths.

A rear-end collision is overwhelmingly the result of unsafe driving practices, namely, following the vehicle ahead at too close a distance. Police officers will issue a citation to the driver at the tail end of a rear-end collision most of the time. This indicates that the law views tailgating as negligent behavior, and it is highly likely that the driver in the rear will be determined at-fault for the collision.

Nevertheless, those injured after colliding with another driver may still be eligible for compensation from other parties, especially if a vehicle defect or another driver was partially to blame for the accident.

Running Red Lights and Failure to Yield

Around half of all car accidents in Chicago in 2018 took place in the total absence of a traffic signal. However, 24,488 accidents occurred in the presence of a traffic signal.

Collisions at intersections can involve any number of scenarios, but the most common ones include running a red light or failure to yield to others at the intersection. Many intersection accidents result in a perpendicular, or “T-bone”, collision because of a vehicle turning left across the path of oncoming traffic, for instance.

Wet, Snowy Road Conditions

While environmental factors can and do play a part in many accidents, the truth is that these factors are rare compared to human factors, like a lack of attention.

For example, IDOT’s data shows that more accidents happen during daylight hours than at night and that the overwhelming majority of accidents don’t involve road debris or defects.

However, snowy or wet roads do seem to be a common factor in many accidents. Around 15,012 collisions occurred in a place with a wet surface, and 3,487 accidents took place while the roads were covered in snow or slush.

Both rain and snow can have a severe effect on steering, braking, and visibility. Even still, many accidents caused by these conditions are at least partially caused by human factors, such as driving errors, distractions, aggressive driving, or a failure to obey traffic laws.

Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Alcohol-impaired accidents made up a small portion of overall accidents in Chicago in 2018, but they had an outsized rate of injuries and fatalities. Of the 1,172 accidents involving alcohol, 34% resulted in a fatality or injury. By comparison, just 18% of overall accidents led to a fatality or injury. Further, while 82% of all accidents resulted in property damage only (PDO), just 66% of accidents involving alcohol did.

Drug-impaired collisions were even more deadly. While just 114 such incidents were recorded, 21% led to fatalities.


Speed was not listed as a factor in the IDOT summary report for Chicago in 2018, but a statewide IDOT report notes that “crashes involving speed accounted for 33.7% of overall crashes, 36.1% of fatal crashes and 38.2% of injury crashes.”

Even when speeding is not a primary factor in a crash, it can increase the severity of the crash and raise the likelihood of serious injuries or deaths.

Large Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can lead to major injuries and deaths. A total of 6,945 large commercial truck accidents occurred in Chicago in 2018, leading to 10 fatalities and 843 injuries.

Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, IDOT’s statistics do not provide specific data for accidents in Chicago that involved a distracted driver. This may be because distracted driving laws are somewhat lax in the state of Illinois, something they intend to remedy.

While distracted driving accidents happen nearly every day across the state, The Chicago Tribune reports that just 15,150 citations were issued statewide in 2018. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives nationwide in 2018.

Talk to a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer When You Get Hurt

Individuals who cause an accident through their negligence can be held responsible for the cost of any injuries, property damages, or other losses. These damages can include the income lost while the injured victim recovers.

Proving who was at fault is not always a simple matter, even when your crash involved one of the common factors above. A car accident lawyer in Chicago can investigate your collision, assess your damages, and identify which parties should compensate you for your losses.

You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the experienced attorneys at Langdon & Emison when you call (866) 931-2115 or contact us online. We want to inform you of your legal options and what strategies you may be able to use to seek the maximum amount of compensation for your losses.