It’s a familiar journey for Indianapolis residents who make a road trip to Chicago: Jump on I-65 N and settle in for a 3-hour drive to the Windy City.
Maybe you are catching a Cubs game? A trip to the museum? A day of shopping on the Magnificent Mile? No matter the reason, you need to be especially careful as you make your way through Northwestern Indiana.
Unknown to most, they will be leaving the county (Marion) responsible for the most traffic accidents in Indiana, and just before reaching Chicago, they will be traveling through the county (Lake) responsible for the second most traffic accidents in our state.
In this blog, we are taking a closer look at Northwestern Indiana to identify the dangers in and around Lake County that pose such a high risk to drivers who are traveling back and forth across the Indiana-Illinois border.
According to the 2017 Indiana Crash Facts Publication, Lake County accounted for 17,419 vehicle crashes. (Marion County continued to lead the way with 36,963 accidents.)
And it is not only the number of accidents that occur in Lake County that are concerning, but it is also the ferocity of these collisions that catch our attention. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), Lake County saw the second-highest number of fatalities from 2014-2018:
Lake County Auto Accident Fatalities by Year
- 2014 – 48
- 2015 – 59
- 2016 – 50
- 2017 – 51
- 2018 – 51
These numbers beg the question: Why is northwestern Indiana such a hazard for drivers?
Anyone who has traveled from Indianapolis to Chicago is well aware of the endless amounts of construction that I-65 is forever under. The congestion and work zones become especially intense as drivers make their way closer to the Illinois border near the Indiana Toll Road and I-94 and I-90 interstates.
In fact, there have been several high-profile accidents involving road workers in this area, a number of whom were killed when struck by a car or truck. The message from Indiana State Troopers and road workers remains the same for drivers who are traveling in construction zones near northwestern Indiana: Obey the road signs and slow down.
Speed and distracted driving continue to be a common theme in car accidents that occur in construction zones. With road and lane configurations experiencing constant change, drivers are often caught off guard when they are suddenly required to merge or are re-directed across lanes.
Being situated near Lake Michigan, the winter months are always a concern in Northwestern Indiana. Conditions can deteriorate by the second, leaving unsuspecting drivers poorly prepared for the icy and slick roads. Every year, a number of fatal crashes occur in Lake County simply due to wintry weather conditions.
It should also be noted that the I-65 drive from Indianapolis to Chicago has a unique concern all its own. Because it is largely flat with little change in elevation, the many open fields that flank each side of the interstate can allow for extremely strong winds. The blowing wind can easily affect the ability of vehicles to maintain a steady and straight path. This is especially true for semi-trucks, as their trailers are particularly susceptible to high-winds.
In addition to construction, another factor you will undoubtedly encounter along I-65 is poor road conditions. Indiana winters are often to blame for the large number of chuckholes and/or potholes as well as portions of the roadway that have simply eroded.
Hitting a pothole while traveling at interstate speeds will not only cause severe damage to a vehicle, it also leads to the high likelihood of being involved in a crash that results in traumatic injury.
Semi-trucks are everywhere!
Northwestern Indiana is an extremely popular route for semi-truck drivers making their way through the midwest.
Chicago is the most popular destination for drivers traveling through the region, however, there are a number of semi-trucks making their way to the eastern part of the U.S. who travel through our state’s most northern counties.
The counties of Porter, Laporte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Lagrange account for a significant number of our state’s fatal accidents.
Driving under the influence
A recent review by The Northwest Indiana Times found that during a 4-year period between 2010-2014, nearly 35% of fatal accidents in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte involved a driver who was under the influence.
Driving under the influence is obviously never a good idea, however, when you combine a drunk driver with heavy traffic, a large number of semi-trucks, and unpredictable weather, the decision is especially dangerous.
Indiana continues to try and combat the problem by designating a specific budget for police patrols that target drunk drivers. The most popular of these programs include Operation Pull Over, the DUI Task Force, and the Summer Impaired Driving Enforcement.
Injured in a Northwestern Indiana car accident?
Bolton Law Group has investigated and handled a number of Northwestern Indiana car accident cases on behalf of clients. Not only are we familiar with the unique liability factors attached to these collisions, but we also have valuable experience with Lake County’s court system.
No matter your financial situation, you can put Boulton Law Group on your side. Attorney Boulton offers all Indiana accident victims a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you will never be charged for a legal consultation and the firm will only receive payment after we win your case.
To speak with attorney Boulton about your Northwestern Indiana accident, dial 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us with the details of your story, you can use our free and confidential contact form.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.