CHICAGO, IL – Memorial Day weekend sets the tone for the beginning of summer for many people. As we honor the lives of the many men and women who have served our country, people across the country will be celebrating. AAA predicts Memorial Day weekend being the busiest in three years with 90% of travelers commuting by car. As more drivers hit the road this weekend, it’s important to stay safe and keep others safe on the roadway.
The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police are teaming up with more than 600 law enforcement agencies across the state in the national “Border to Border” mobilization – a campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
In 2020, Illinois roadways alone had 16 car crashes resulting in 16 fatalities. Last year’s Memorial Day weekend had 11 crashes resulting in 14 fatalities between 6 PM on Friday and 11:59 PM Monday evening.
The Illinois Tollway expects more than 7.7 million vehicles between Friday, May 27, and Tuesday, May 31.
“As people begin their summer travels, starting with this Memorial Day holiday weekend, we want to remind drivers to keep their focus on the road and slow down in work zones,” said Illinois Tollway Interim Executive Director Lanyea Griffin (Chicago Crusader).
This year, it’s estimated that 450 people will lose their lives in a preventable car crash this holiday weekend. Please make sure to plan ahead, practice safe driving, and be aware of your surroundings.
Safe driving tips
- Buckle up and ensure that everyone in your vehicle is buckled before you begin driving. The lack of seat belt use is the number one cause of fatalities in car crashes. Make sure that your seatbelts are installed correctly, especially when driving with children.
- Slow down and take your time. Pay attention to speed limits, specifically when you’re in construction zones. Make sure you’re keeping a close eye on bicyclists and motorcycles that are also on the road.
- Designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation. Driving intoxicated is not worth the risk of losing your life or jeopardizing innocent lives on the roadway. Intoxicated driving includes alcohol and drugs like opioids, marijuana, and some over-the-counter medication. Uber’s and Lyft’s are accessible nearly everywhere, along with trains and buses in the city and suburban areas.
- Avoid distracted driving like texting, talking on the phone, using your GPS, or messing with the radio. Thousands of people have died on the roadway from crashes involving cell phone use.
- Prepare before you go by inspecting your car and ensuring that it’s safe to drive. Make sure to check your oil and tire pressure to avoid an accident on the road.
Best and worst times to drive
Traffic congestion throughout the Chicagoland area is going to be at its peak on Thursday afternoon. According to Patch, Interstate 290 and IL-110 to Racine Avenue in Chicago will be the most congested between the hours of 3:30 and 5:30 PM on Thursday. Traffic volumes will be more than 130% above normal, according to AAA.
If you’re traveling on Thursday or Friday morning, the best time to travel is before 7 AM. If you plan to travel on Saturday through Monday, the best travel times in Illinois are before 10 AM.