socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Illinois transportation officials heard from Minnesota officials about a campaign working “Toward Zero Deaths.”
Nearly 1,100 people died on Illinois roads last year, the eighth-highest total in the country and a 2 percent increase from the previous year. Motor vehicle deaths nationwide declined. To investigate how other states are working to reduce deaths, Illinois Department of Transportation hosted a summit Tuesday in Springfield.
Minnesota state traffic safety engineer Brad Estochen told the group about how Minnesota is bringing engineers, law enforcement, educators and public health officials together to address the problem.
“Establishing those partnerships in collaborating on the same goal, or same initiative, or same mission, is really key to driving success,” Estochen said.
As an engineer, he talked about various ways to slow traffic down at troubled intersections with things like roundabouts, or rerouting traffic slightly to reduce speeds. But, he said it takes time and patience to get it right.
“You can engineer your way to that, but people like to be mobile, people value getting to places efficiently,” Estochen said. “A lot of times, it’s managing that trade-off so that we can safely operate in an environment for everybody, but still getting them to their destination as quick as possible.”
Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Kindhart said such an effort can be effective.
“It’s all got to be worked together,” Kindhart said. “So the collaboration of having that unit working as one is the best we can do.”
Illinois state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill, was there and heard about Minnesota’s collaboration efforts. He hopes something happens in his area to make people feel safer on Interstate 80.
“There are people who avoid route 80 through Joliet to go the store,” McGuire said. “There are people who no longer buy groceries in Joliet, they go to surrounding communities such as New Lenox because they’re afraid to drive on Interstate 80.”
Illinois’ “Life or Death Illinois” public awareness campaign launched earlier this year, and drivers continue to see messages on electronic roadway signs. State officials said they will evaluate how to implement Minnesota’s recommendations throughout the state.