When Is Rush Hour in Chicago?

Monday, May 13, 2024

When Is Rush Hour in Chicago?

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

Chicago is densely populated, with over 2 million residents and 30 million annual visitors. The immense demand on Chicago streets and roads is a source of persistent traffic congestion during rush hours.

The morning rush hour begins as early as 6 a.m., with office workers making up most of the traffic. It is most intense between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and gradually eases off at 10 a.m.

As blue-collar workers hurry to work on time, there’s an increased risk of road accidents. Drivers running late to work are willing to drive recklessly and make risky maneuvers, often resulting in car accidents.

If you’ve sustained an injury in a rush hour accident, speak to a trusted car accident attorney in Chicago, IL, for legal support.

When Is Rush Hour in Chicago?

There are three typical periods of rush hour traffic in Chicago, as follows:

Morning Rush Hour

The morning rush begins as early as 6 a.m., with traffic most intense from 7 to 9 a.m. However, it eases off at around 10 a.m. Drivers can avoid vehicle accidents by exercising caution during the morning hours.

Lunch Hour Rush

Although it is not as congested as the morning hours, there is a noticeable traffic uptick between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. There is an increased likelihood of accidents as some drivers are hungry, angry, or in a hurry to return to work on time.

Evening Rush Hour

The evening rush hours last from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a peak in traffic at around 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The worst congestion is experienced on Friday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Chicago Traffic Rules and Regulations

Chicago traffic rules and regulations were enacted to keep drivers and other road users safe.

Here are a few rules to keep in mind while driving around the city:

  • Speed Limits: The maximum speed limit for interstate highways outside urban areas is 75 mph, 55 mph on interstates near or in major cities, and 65 mph on rural interstates. Drivers should not exceed 30mph on urban roads.
  • Construction Zones: There may be some lane closures in construction zones. Traffic marshals at construction work zones may require you to slow down or stop. When merging with the alternate lane, give way to authorized workers and drivers.
  • Cell Phones: It is illegal to use hand-held phones while driving in Chicago. The rule applies to other communication devices like laptops or personal digital assistants. However, you can use Bluetooth and other hands-free devices.
  • Emergency Vehicles: Look for emergency vehicles, including police trucks, fire trucks, and ambulances. If one approaches, pull over to the side of the road and allow it to pass.
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) should always be less than 0.08 grams.
  • Toll Payments: Many highways in Chicago have tolls. You can pay online within seven days if you don’t have cash.

Key to Escaping Rush Hour Traffic

Heavy traffic is a constant problem for a big city like Chicago.

Here are a few tips to make your trip easier:

  • Leave Early or Late: If you must use the Kennedy Expressway, West Roosevelt Road, and other busy highways, leave before or after the rush hour to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Familiarize Yourself With Road Maps: Chicago’s grid-like pattern makes navigation relatively simple. Knowing the road layout will help you quickly get back on course if you need an alternative route to your destination.
  • Consider Using Public Transportation: Consider using public transportation methods like rapid transit trains operated by the Chicago Transit Authority. Avoid driving in the city during sports events or holidays when other drivers are on the road.
  • Find the Quickest Way to Your Destination: If you commute daily to work, find the easiest and fastest route. Avoid detours that might lead to increased traffic.

Tips for Driving in Chicago

In spite of rush hour madness, Chicago has a good network of roads, making driving safe and manageable.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while driving in Chicago:

  1. Consider using public transportation, cycling, or walking to beat traffic congestion
  2. Pay toll charges within seven days to avoid penalties
  3. Be aware of traffic signals, road signs, and one-way streets
  4. Be mindful of pedestrians, cyclists, and e-scooters sharing the road with you
  5. Be alert and assertive when leaving or entering the  freeway
  6. Ensure to carry adequate insurance coverage in case of a  rush hour car accident
  7. Increase your driving distance during icy conditions to prevent collisions with other vehicles

Probability of Rush Hour Accidents

During peak hours, drivers act aggressively to beat traffic congestion, increasing the risk of side-impact collisions. Drivers who are bored during traffic congestion keep themselves busy with their phones, which often leads to distracted driving accidents.

The higher the number of vehicles on the road, the higher the risk of multi-vehicle collisions. If one vehicle is involved in a rear-end collision, there is a possibility of a chain effect on other vehicles.

Contact Our Chicago Car Accident Attorneys for Rush Hour Accident Injury Lawsuits

After a car accident, it can be difficult to know where to turn. Working with a legal professional from Malman Law with decades of experience provides guidance and increases your chances of obtaining a fair settlement value.

Contact us online or at (312) 629-0099 for a FREE no-obligation consultation.

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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