The Deadliest Highways in Illinois


Summer is a dangerous time for travel and 102 fatal summertime accidents occurred on I-57, I-80, and I-55 between 2015 and 2017. Vehicle speed, driving distractions, vehicle condition, road construction, and many other factors can increase the risk of a fatal accident on these roads. Knowledge of the risks and proactive preparations can help reduce the danger motorists face when they travel down these highways and other roads in Illinois.

Deadliest Highways in Illinois

The deadliest highway in Illinois is I-57 which runs from Chicago almost to Effingham. From 2015 through 2017, 39 fatalities occurred on the highway. The second deadliest highway is I-55 which runs from Chicago all the way down to New Orleans. From 2015 through 2017, there were 37 fatal accidents on this route in Illinois alone. Finally, 26 fatalities were recorded on I-80 which crosses the country from San Francisco to New Jersey. 

I-80 is particularly dangerous and shows up on the list of deadliest highways in multiple states. Reasons for this include high travel speeds, traffic congestion, and that the highway passes through multiple heavily-populated areas. 

Deadly accidents in Illinois are increasing at alarming rates. From 2015-2016, the state saw a 12% increase in fatal accidents. This is among the sharpest increases in the United States and highlights the very real risks motorists in Illinois face every time they get behind the wheel of an automobile. Reckless behaviors including speeding, drunk driving, and driver distraction are among the primary reasons for the dramatic increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents in Illinois over the past decade.  

Causes of Highway Accidents

Summer tends to be slightly more dangerous than winter driving. One reason for this is that there are simply more drivers on the road during the summer months than over the winter season. The smaller the size of the state, the higher the speed limit, the greater the congestion, the greater the risk.

Similarly, time of day plays a significant factor and a higher number of fatalities are recorded between the hours of 12 am and 3 am on Saturdays and Sundays than during the rest of the week. A considerable number of these accidents occur due to driver fatigue, driver distraction, and drug or alcohol intoxication.

Watch Out for Work Zones

Spring and summer are known as “road construction” season in many states. During these periods, many states initiate repairs and highway upgrades. This increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents in road construction zones. Motorists should pay particular attention to their driving habits when traveling on highways that are under repair.

Drivers should always adhere to posted speed limits and maintain a safe stopping distance between their vehicles and those in front of them. Drivers should avoid all distractions including cell phone conversations, adjusting radio and temperature controls, consuming food or drink, etc. It is also vital to stay alert for workmen on the side of the road and the movement of construction machinery. 

Preventing Highway Accidents

Poor vehicle maintenance is a common cause of highway accidents in every state. Drivers have a duty of care to themselves, their passengers, and other motorists to ensure their vehicle is in safe operating condition. Failing to properly maintain a car or truck can lead to a sudden component failure that can cause the driver to lose control over the vehicle. 

Drivers should routinely inspect their tires for signs of damage, proper inflation, and to ensure that there is sufficient tread. Damaged and threadbare tires should be promptly replaced. Further, tires should be regularly balanced and alignments performed by a trained mechanic. It is also imperative to make sure that headlights and taillights are in proper working condition. Damaged lights and faulty signals should be replaced without delay.

Vehicle owners should also ensure that the vehicle’s oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid reservoirs are properly filled. Oil changes should be performed per manufacturer guidelines, and any damaged hoses, fuel pumps, or oil filters should be repaired or replaced. It is also vital to replace worn wiper blades because one of the most common causes of highway accidents is poor visibility. 

Reporting Unsafe Drivers

Whether it’s a professional driver in a semi-truck or a mom in a mini-van, motorists should report any unsafe driving behaviors to the Illinois State Police. Drivers should record vital information including vehicle make/model, estimated speed, the direction of travel, and any distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle and driver. Drivers, or ideally, their passenger, can call *999 to report reckless driving behaviors including aggressive driving, drunk driving, speeding, etc. Drivers should never attempt to engage or follow these drivers and should simply report them and allow law enforcement to make contact.


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