Chicago vs. Indianapolis: Which City is Safest to Drive?

Monday, October 10, 2022

Chicago vs. Indianapolis: Which City is Safest to Drive?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Chicago and Indianapolis are both highly populated, busy cities. Both have their pros and cons, but which is the safest city to drive? Of course, there are many factors involved and statistics to look at when making this determination. We’ve gathered them here so you can draw your own conclusions. However, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in either of these cities, it will suddenly become the most dangerous to drive to you. 


Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident Data by State 

When comparing the traffic safety of the two cities, it’s essential to look at fatality rates. Even though Illinois and Chicago have a larger population than Indiana and Indianapolis, the fatalities per 100 million miles traveled are still higher in Illinois than it is in Indiana for 2020


  • Population: 12,785,245
  • Vehicle miles traveled (millions): 94,121
  • Fatal crashes: 1,087
  • Deaths: 1,194
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 9.3
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.27


  • Population: 6,785,644
  • Vehicle miles traveled (millions): 76,608
  • Fatal crashes: 897
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.2
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.17

Projected estimated fatality rates for the first quarter of 2022, as reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), are as follows:

  • Illinois: 280, representing an increase of 24.4 percent increase over the first quarter of 2021 with 225 fatalities
  • Indiana: 175, representing a 22.3 percent increase over the first quarter of 2021 with 214 fatalities


At-Fault Car Accidents

Another factor to consider when looking at the safest city to drive in is the number of at-fault car accidents. Data reviewers at Insurify reviewed their applications for auto insurance to find which cities had the most car accidents. They found that in Muncie, a suburb of Indianapolis:

  • 13.12 percent (1.20 times more than the state average) of their drivers had a prior at-fault accident
  • 8.18 percent had a prior no-fault accident

In Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, data revealed that the:

  • 11.82 percent (1.54 times more than the state average) had a prior at-fault accident
  • 5.16 percent of drivers with had a prior no-fault accident


Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics by County

Indianapolis is located in Marion County, Indiana. In 2020 (the most recent year for which figures are published), this county had the most accidents in the state, with 28,701 of them resulting in 135 deaths and 23,569 accidents that were classified as property damage only. Over nine percent of these accidents were related to speeding, and 1.2 percent involved alcohol use.

Chicago is located in Cook County, Illinois. In 2020, it saw 156,359 total crashes involving 314,725 vehicles, 460 fatalities, 41,061 total injuries, and 126,542 damaged vehicles. Over 2,270 of these accidents involved alcohol use, and speeding increased 14 percent over the previous year.

While both Indianapolis and Chicago are prone to wintry weather conditions, the vast majority of accidents in both locations occurred during times of clear weather and roads. However, other causes of motor vehicle collisions include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue/drowsiness
  • Driver inexperience
  • Lack of proper vehicle maintenance
  • Vehicle manufacturer defects
  • Poorly designed roads or intersections


The Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Chicago

From on and off ramps to cyclists and public transportation, there’s a lot that can make roads and intersections in Chicago quite dangerous, including:

  • Stony Island Avenue at South Chicago Avenue
  • E 79th Street and South Stony Island Ave
  • E 95th Street and South Stony Island Ave
  • Western Avenue at Peterson Avenue
  • Kedzie Avenue at Belmont Avenue
  • Lincoln and Clark
  • Milwaukee Avenue
  • Cicero Avenue and 127th Street
  • La Grange Road at I-80 westbound ramp
  • Ogden Avenue at Illinois 59
  • 22nd Street at Kingery Highway
  • Bolingbrook Drive at the Southbound ramp to I-55
  • West Garfield Boulevard and South Wentworth Avenue
  • W Garfield Boulevard and South Wells Street
  • N Michigan Avenue and East Wacker Drive
  • West Cermak Road and South Clark Street


The Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Indianapolis

Many intersecting freeways, congested traffic, confusing intersections, and poor pedestrian protections make many of Indianapolis’s roadways dangerous for everyone. The most dangerous roads and intersections here include:

  • West 86th Street between Michigan and Harcourt Roads
  • West 38th Street from Boulevard Place to Meridian Street
  • West 34th and 38th Streets, between Moller Road west to I-465
  • East 38th Street from the State Fairgrounds to Sherman Avenue
  • Meridian and Illinois Streets between 14th and 34th Streets
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Street between 25th and 30th Streets
  • West 10th Street from Tibbs Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street
  • East 10th Street from Woodruff Place to Arlington Avenue
  • East Washington Street from Willard Park to Arlington Avenue
  • West Washington St. from I-465 to Holt Road
  • 82nd Street and Allisonville Road 
  • Emerson Avenue, especially at the intersection of Thompson Road, Southport Road, I-465, and Main Street
  • East Street and Thompson Road 
  • I-465 and US 31, and Meridian Street


Types of Accidents

Both Chicago and Indianapolis see many common types of car accidents. However, accident type is always a good predictor of the severity of injuries and property damage that might result. Some might seem severe, and victims walk away with minor injuries. Other accidents might seem insignificant but cause severe injuries. No matter what type of accident you are involved in or how many you think your injuries are, it’s always a good idea to meet with an experienced Indiana car accident lawyer to determine if you have a claim for compensation. The most common types of accidents in Chicago and Indianapolis include:

  • Sideswipe accidents: Usually occur when two cars are traveling side-by-side in the same direction. They are often the result of blind spots or failing to check mirrors before switching lanes. 
  • Rear-end collisions: Often happen due to distraction, speed, or following too closely. They have the potential to be quite severe, potentially causing neck and back injuries— especially if the rear car was traveling at high speeds.
  • Head-on collisions: One of the most serious types of accidents, as it usually involves the force of both vehicles traveling at high speeds. They are common on rural roads and on and off ramps if drivers travel in the wrong direction.
  • T-Bone accidents: Usually happen at intersections when drivers aren’t obeying traffic lights, causing the front of one vehicle to hit the broadside of another.
  • Rollover accidents: Also quite severe, especially if the people inside the vehicle are not wearing their seatbelts. These are often caused by fatigued drivers, overcorrecting a vehicle, and problems with the road’s shoulder.
  • Merging accidents: Sometimes, two vehicles collide as a result of merging in crowded traffic, especially if the drivers fail to check their blind spots and regulate their speed based on the speed of the traffic already on the road. Unfortunately, these accidents tend to happen at high speeds, which increases the potential for serious or even fatal injuries.


Serious car accidents can happen in any city, big or small, accident-prone or not. You deserve reliable, skilled legal representation no matter where your car accident occurs. The right attorneys investigate your accident to determine who is at fault and hold them accountable for your damages. 

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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