Illinois lies between Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River and the Ohio River in the Midwestern United States. Illinois is the most populous state in the nation’s Midwest region, with an estimated 12,910,409 residents in 2009 (U.S. Census). Central and western Illinois are home to small towns and cities, but a large percentage of the land is devoted to agriculture.
The Chicago metropolitan area, including the city of Chicago, its suburbs, and the adjoining communities into which the metropolis is expanding, dominate the northeastern portion of Illinois. Northeast Illinois is densely populated; the region is home to 65% of the population of Illinois. The Metro-East is the second largest urban area in Illinois after the Chicago metropolitan area. The Metro-East is the Illinois portion of Greater St. Louis, in the southwestern portion of the state. The largest city in the Metro-East region is Belleville, Illinois.
Chicago is the largest city in Illinois, and the third most populous city in the United States. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Chicago’s population at 2,833,321 residents. Other major Illinois cities include Aurora, Rockford, Joliet and Naperville, a suburb of Chicago.
Springfield, the Illinois State Capital, is located in Sangamon County, in Central Illinois. President Abraham Lincoln lived in Springfield from 1837 until 1861, when he left to become the 16th President of the United States.
Because of Illinois’ central, mid-continent location, the state is a national crossroads for air, auto, rail and truck traffic. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, and Chicago’s Union Station is also a national hub for Amtrak passenger rail service. The Port of Chicago is the shipping hub of the Midwest.
Illinois has more interstate highways than any other state in the nation. Major U.S. highways serving Illinois include Interstate 24, Interstate 39, Interstate 55, Interstate 64, Interstate 70, Interstate 72, Interstate 74, Interstate 80, Interstate 88, Interstate 90 and Interstate 94. Illinois is accessed through interstates I-39, I-90 and I-94 through Wisconsin, I-74 and I-80 through Iowa, I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70 and I-72 through Missouri, I-24 through Kentucky, and I-64, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90 and I-94 through Indiana.
Illinois is one of the nation’s leading manufacturing centers. Approximately three-quarters of IL’s chemical, machinery, food, metal, plastics, and rubber manufacturing plants are located in Northeastern Illinois, with nearly 40% of Illinois’s manufacturing plants being located in Cook County. Cook County is the second most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County. There are over 128 incorporated municipalities in Cook County, the largest of which is the county seat, Chicago, which makes up approximately 54% of the population of the county.
Illinois, along with Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana, is considering a proposal under the U.S. Department of Transportation‘s Corridors of the Future Program which would separate trucks from other traffic along 800 miles of Interstate 70, an east-west corridor that runs through the four Midwestern states and is one of the busiest freight routes in the country. If built, it would be the first truck-only corridor in the country. The idea of separate, exclusive lanes for commercial trucks is well-received in Illinois, as the state sees an extremely large amount of truck traffic. The heavy truck traffic on Illinois’s congested roadways presents a risk for the drivers of autos, light trucks and motorcycles. A traffic accident involving a large truck and a passenger car or motorcycle can be catastrophic. The size and weight disparity between the heavy trucks and other vehicles will likely result in serious, possibly even fatal, injuries for the driver or passengers of the automobile or motorcycle involved in the crash.
The Illinois Department of Transportation reported 292,106 crashes which occurred on Illinois roadways in 2009, with 911 fatalities and 89,090 injuries reported. This is an average of 800 traffic crashes per day, with an average of two fatalities a day and 10 persons injured every hour. The greatest number of accidents occurred on Fridays with 41,348 crashes in urban locations and 7,530 accidents in rural locations. Passenger cars were involved in 78% of the vehicle accidents. Cook County, Illinois had by far the largest number of motor vehicle crashes in 2009 with 138,297 accidents, 264 persons killed, and 38,697 injuries reported.
Crashes involving fixed objects comprise the largest number of fatal accidents in Illinois, and accounted for 31.3% of all fatalities in 2009. Rear-end collisions comprise the highest number of injury accidents, resulting in 28.8% of all injuries in 2009. Rear-end collisions accounted for 27.4 percent of total crashes. There were 31 fatal crashes in work zones in 2009. Five of the persons killed were roadway construction workers.
There were 3,846 motorcycle crashes in Illinois in 2009, or 1.3% of all accidents. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14.3% of the traffic-related fatalities in 2009 in Illinois. These figures include crashes involving motorcycles, motor scooters, motorbikes and mopeds.
There were 9,319 accidents involving tractor-trailers in Illinois in the year 2009. These tractor-trailer crashes accounted for 3.2% of the total accidents. Fatal crashes involving tractor trailers account for 7.5% of all fatal accidents. In total, 64 persons were killed in tractor-trailer crashes; three of the persons killed were occupants of the tractor trailer, while 55 were occupants of another type of vehicle.