Approximately 2.7 million people call Chicago home, so it probably comes as no surprise that the Windy City is just as well known for its traffic as it is for its striking architecture and soaring skyscrapers. If you are new to the area, will be traveling through, or recently bought a car, you might be wondering: When’s the best time to drive through Chicago?
There are many factors to consider when determining the safest time to be on the road, which is why we have compiled the below information to help you make sense of this problem.
Chicago Car Accident Statistics
More car accidents happen in Chicagoland than anywhere else in Illinois. Ashland Ave. from West 24th Street to West 47th Street is the deadliest stretch of road in the state, with a total of nine fatal car accidents between 2018 and 2020.
During that same time period, Cook County had 869 fatal accidents. The most common causes of these fatal crashes were:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
Chicago’s Busiest Roads
The Chicago River carves an impressive 156 miles of waterways through the heart of the city. Both vehicle and foot traffic over the river is heavy, with many residents regularly crossing the Chicago River for work, school, and social obligations. Some of the city’s busiest roads cross directly over the river:
- East Congress Parkway
- North Ashland Avenue
- North Lake Shore Drive
- North Michigan Avenue
- North Western Avenue
- West North Avenue
- West Roosevelt Road
North McCormick Boulevard and US 53 are also among some of the most traveled roads in the area.
High levels of traffic congestion have been strongly linked to an increased risk for car accidents. If you plan to travel on any of the above roads while visiting or traveling through Chicago, it may be in your best interest to divert your route to less-traveled roads to decrease your chances of being involved in a collision.
If you live in the Chicagoland area and regularly use any of the city’s busiest roads on your commute, consider taking an alternative route. Chicago also boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the country, including the Metra Commuter Rail and the Chicago Transit Authority, which serve as an alternative to commuting in a personal vehicle.
Morning Rush Hour
Morning rush hour begins as early as 6 a.m., with blue-collar workers making up the bulk of early-morning commuters. Rush hour is most intense between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. before tapering off around 10 a.m.
Exercise caution when driving between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. in Chicago, as morning rush hour is a dangerous time to be on the road. Here are some of the most common reasons we see rush hour accidents at Thomas Law Offices:
- Drivers who are running late to work are more willing to drive recklessly or make risky driving maneuvers
- Clogged roads increase agitation among drivers
- There is less room to maneuver or avoid bad drivers
- Sun glare from the rising sun can impede vision
Evening Rush Hour
Evening rush hour lasts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., with peak traffic falling between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. You’ll encounter the worst traffic conditions on Friday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. If possible, divert your commute home to a route with less traffic congestion and, if possible, roads that do not directly face the setting sun. Both of these small actions will reduce your likelihood of being involved in a car crash on your way home from work.
The Lunch Rush
Chicago has a third rush hour—the lunch rush. Although traffic is less congested than during morning and evening commuting hours, there is a noticeable uptick in traffic between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Be cautious when driving during the lunch rush hour, as workers may be agitated, hungry, and in a hurry to make it back to work on time.
The Best Time To Drive Through Chicago
Taking Chicago’s rush hours into account, the best times to drive through Chicago are:
- Before 5 a.m.
- From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If possible, adjust your driving schedule to ensure you are on the road between these hours. Avoid Chicagoland’s busiest roads, and do not forget about the uptick in traffic during lunchtime. Although none of these actions are guaranteed to prevent a car accident, they can drastically reduce your chances of becoming involved in a collision.
Why Not Drive at Night?
Fewer people travel by car during nighttime hours. This does not necessarily mean that you will be safe if you choose to drive through Chicago at night. Here are some of the risks you face when you choose to travel overnight rather than during the day:
- Drunk drivers, who are most active on the road between midnight and 3 a.m.
- Drowsy drivers
- Slowed reaction times
- Decreased fields of vision
Take precautions if you must drive through Chicago at night. Taking a 20-minute nap, drinking caffeine, and traveling with a passenger are all effective methods to keep yourself awake and alert for nighttime driving.
Helping Car Accident Victims Since 2011
Thomas Law Offices focuses exclusively on cases involving personal injury, including car accident cases. Our choice to focus on injury claims gives us an unrivaled edge over the competition, and we have proven time and time again that we are tireless advocates for those who have been harmed through no fault of their own.
We know that driving through Illinois can be dangerous, even when you choose the best time to drive through Chicago. If you were injured in a car accident, the clock is already running down on your ability to recover compensation. Contact our Chicago, IL office by calling us or filling out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation.