NUTC Researchers Present Data on Chicagoland Pedestrian-Rail Fatalities to City of Lake Forest, Illinois

June 2011

Recent findings on pedestrian-rail fatalities were presented by Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) researchers to City of Lake Forest, Illinois, government officials on June 13, 2011. The findings came from a study analyzing seven years worth of pedestrian-rail fatality data (2004-2010) covering all six counties of the Chicagoland area. The research was motivated by a discussion at NUTC’s Pedestrian-Rail Safety Symposium conducted in June 2010 in partnership with The City of Lake Forest. The City of Lake Forest invited the research team to present the new data in response to a number of incidents within the City boundaries in recent years.

NUTC faculty affiliate and economics professor Ian Savage and transportation and logistics minor undergraduate student Ken Fuller presented to Lake Forest Police Chief Joe Buerger, Assistant City Manager Carina Walters, and NUTC Sandhouse Rail Group Moderator and city resident Norman Carlson. The team’s presentation included geographic data on recent local pedestrian-rail fatalities and how Lake Forest compares to other communities in the Chicagoland area. The researchers found that the Milwaukee District North line that runs through Lake Forest has higher-than-average risks compared with other Chicagoland lines. The investigation considered three groups of pedestrian fatalities that occurred along rail routes: 1) suicides, 2) non-suicidal deaths occurring at stations and crossings, and 3) non-suicidal deaths not occurring at stations and crossings (also referred to as trespassers). The table below provides information on the three categories of fatalities along all major commuter lines in the Chicagoland area.

The researchers further confirmed The City of Lake Forest’s suspicions that it is among the communities with the highest fatality risks in the entire Chicago region. Prior to this study, the city could only rely on anecdotal evidence. The presentation also gave insight into the specific risk factors associated with the individual rail routes and the experience of comparable communities to Lake Forest elsewhere in Chicagoland. With the information provided by the NUTC research team, The City of Lake Forest will be better equipped to make decisions on public policy responses, be they working towards physical changes to the infrastructure, public awareness campaigns, or law enforcement activities.

For more information on the research, please contact Ian Savage at ipsavage@northwestern.edu.

 

Rail Pedestrian Fatalities 2004-2010

At Stations
& Crossings

Trespassers

Suicides

Total

Commuter Rail Routes

 

 

 

 

BNSF

10

11

10

31

Metra Electric

5

2

1

8

Heritage Corridor

0

2

2

4

Milwaukee - Joint

0

5

0

5

Milwaukee - North

10

7

14

31

Milwaukee - West

7

4

14

25

North Central Service

2

1

3

6

Rock Island

4

3

7

14

South West Service

1

4

2

7

UP - North

2

4

8

14

UP - Northwest

8

6

24

38

UP - West

3

9

22

34

NICTD – South Shore

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

Sub Total

52

58

107

217

 

 

 

 

 

Non Commuter Routes

7

23

13

43

 

 

 

 

 

Total

59

81

120

260