Chicago, IL Car Insurance Guide (Comprehensive)
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UPDATED: Oct 4, 2020
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|Density||11,960 people per square mile|
|Average Cost of Insurance in Chicago||$4,497.74|
|Cheapest Car Insurance Company||Liberty Mutual & USAA|
|Road Conditions||Poor: 28%
Chicago. One of the largest cities (and greater metropolitan areas) in the country, it is known as a hub for arts, architecture, finance, education, business, and more. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the city is actually higher than that of many smaller countries around the world.
It’s also a haven for tourists, with the city seeing an average of 58 million visitors each year. Whether you live and work in the Windy City, are just visiting, or are considering moving to the area, its important to know some basic car insurance and statistics about the city.
But where do you find this information? We know spending time researching can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. But not to worry, we’ve done the basic research for you.
All you have to do is take a few minutes to read through this article, and you’ll find everything you need to know about insurance rates in the city, how your personal situation may affect those rates, what insurers look at when considering rates in the city as a whole, transportation options at your disposal, and more.
Before you get started, why not use your ZIP code to get a free quote on car insurance?
The Cost of Car Insurance in Chicago
What does car insurance cost? What does it cover? No matter where you look today, it seems you’re bombarded with information about your options when it comes to purchasing a policy.
This company says they have the best rates; that one claims to be the most flexible; yet another says they’ve covered everything you could possibly imagine. But how do you know what’s right for you? Where do you even get started?
For many, price is one of the key aspects that determine what insurance coverage is purchased and from whom. But even figuring out pricing can be overwhelming.
We’ve collected data on car insurance rates in Chicago from the primary insurers, looking at those rates from multiple perspectives so you can see how your specific circumstances might affect those rates. This can help you determine which companies may be worth a second look as you shop for insurance in the Windy City.
Does gender and age affect my car insurance in Chicago?
At some point, you’ve probably heard that young men pay the highest insurance rates or that once you turn 26, you’re no longer considered a “young” driver, so your rates will decrease. But is this actually true?
We’ll take a look at Quadrant data on rates based on both age and gender to see how these factors may (or may not) affect your rates in Chicago, to find out.
First, let’s take a look at age. We’ve pulled the average car insurance rates for drivers at 17, 25, 35, and 60 to see how they compare.
- Age 17: $9,627.05
- Age 25: $3,248.57
- Age 35: $2,721.02
- Age 60: $2,545.51
In looking at this data, it immediately becomes obvious that the younger you are, the more you’ll pay for insurance. In fact, at 17, you’ll pay 196 percent more for insurance than someone who is just 25. For the best rates in the city, you’ll have to way until you’re 60, which could be a while, since the median age of residents in Chicago is 34.9, according to DataUSA.
However, rates at 35 (which is nearly equal to the median age in the city) are still much more affordable than rates for younger drivers, and you’re only paying about 7 percent more for insurance than drives at age 60.
Now that we know age is a factor in how much you pay for insurance, let’s take a look at gender. Is gender something that can affect your insurance rates? Is it even legal for gender to be a factor?
More and more states (like California and Hawaii, for example) are changing their laws to make it illegal for insurance companies to use gender as a reason to adjust their rates. This is largely because more and more people consider it to be a discriminatory practice.
However, it is still legal in Illinois for insurance companies to include gender in their rate adjustment factors. To see what this looks like in Chicago, we’ve listed average rates for men and women in the city below:
- Average premium for men: $4,535.54
- Average premium for women: $4,277.54
While the gap is not significant, it is there; based on these rates, men are currently paying an average of 6 percent more for insurance coverage than women.
Now that we’ve looked at age and gender separately, how might the combination of these two factors affect your insurance? Take a look at this table to see what the average rates for men and women are across the four age categories we’ve already discussed.
|Age and Gender||Rate|
|Married 60-year-old female||$2,494.91|
|Married 60-year-old male||$2,596.11|
|Married 35-year-old female||$2,708.30|
|Married 35-year-old male||$2,733.75|
|Single 25-year-old female||$3,098.36|
|Single 25-year-old male||$3,398.79|
|Single 17-year-old female||$8,808.60|
|Single 17-year-old male||$10,445.50|
As you can see, when you combine age and gender, the rate differences become significantly more pronounced. As you age, the difference between rates for men and women decreases, so that by the time you’re 35, it is less than 1 percent. However, at 17, males are paying an average of almost 19 percent more for car insurance than females.
What are the cheapest ZIP codes in Chicago?
Where you live may also be a benefit (or detriment) when it comes to how insurance companies adjust your rates. To better understand how much you may cost them in claims, car insurance companies take into consideration the crime rates where you live.
How do they do this? They look at crime statistics based on the ZIP code. In general, the ZIP codes with higher crime rates will have higher car insurance rates than the neighborhoods in ZIP codes with lower crime rates.
We’ll spend some time later discussing crime rates in Chicago, but for now, take a look at this table to see what the car insurance rates look like in various ZIP codes in Chicago.
|ZIP Code||Average Rate|
The cheapest ZIP code in Chicago for car insurance is 60657, which has an average rate of $3,813.21, while the most expensive ZIP code for car insurance is 60636, with an average rate of $5,370.32. This means if you live in ZIP code 60636, you’ll pay about 40.83 percent more for car insurance than if you live in ZIP code 60657.
To better understand this price difference, we did a quick search to see what the crime rates and average incomes were like in those two ZIP codes. This is what we found.
- While both ZIP codes have fairly high crime rates (as compared to the national average), the crime rate in ZIP code 60636 is about 50 percent higher than in ZIP code 60657.
- In addition, the average income for ZIP code 60657 is about 129 percent higher than the average income for ZIP code 60636.
With this in mind, it is clear that insurance companies in Chicago adjust rates based on the crime, and the higher the crime rate, the higher your rates are likely to be.
What’s the best car insurance company in Chicago?
Determining the best car insurance company in Chicago is not a simple as it may sound. There are a lot of items to take into consideration when making this determination, and many of them are specific to your individual circumstances.
What are your insurance needs? What can you afford? What risks do you face? How much do you drive? These are just a few of the questions that must be answered in order for you to determine which is the best car insurance company in Chicago for you.
To help you be able to make a decision on the best insurance company for you and your needs, we spend the next several sections providing you with data on the most affordable insurance companies based on different factors like cost, commute length, coverage level, and more.
Read on to see how the major insurers in Chicago stack up based on these different variables.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company
Let’s get started by looking at the most affordable car insurance rates in the Windy City. Take a look at this table to see how the major companies in the city compare.
|Car Insurance Company||Average Rate|
As you can see, the average rates across these 10 companies vary quite significantly. Liberty Mutual offers the most affordable rates overall, with an average rate of $2,831.86, while Allstate is the most expensive at $6,804.11. This means if you’re insured by Allstate, you’ll be paying an average of 140 percent more for coverage than someone insured by Liberty Mutual.
However, depending on your own circumstances, these rates may vary. We’ll take a look at some of the different factors that can affect your rates in the next few sections.
Best Car Insurance for Commute Rates
Do you have a long commute to work? Unfortunately, the longer your commute, the higher your insurance rates may be. Why?
Ultimately every factor car insurance companies consider when adjusting your rates comes down to risk. The higher your perceived risk (of filing a claim or having a claim filed against you), the higher your rates may be.
So essentially, the more time you spend on the road, the higher your chances are of getting in a car accident, so insurers may adjust your rates as a result.
On average, Americans log about 13,476 miles per year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. By contrast, average drivers in Illinois travels about 12,921 miles per year, which is 4.12 percent less than the national average.
To see how your commute can affect your insurance rates, take a look at this table, in which we compare rates for average annual commutes of 6,000 and 12,000 miles.
|Insurance Company||10 Miles Commute, 6000 Annual Mileage||25 Miles Commute, 12000 Annual Mileage||Average|
Consistent with what we observed in the previous section, Liberty Mutual offers the most affordable rates overall, which are about 12.6 percent less than the next-cheapest rates (offered by USAA).
Liberty Mutual also does not increase their rates based on the commute distances listed in the table. Of the 10 companies listed, half do not increase their rates at all based on commute length. The remaining half’s rates do increase between 2.6 and 8.4 percent for the longer commutes.
Though these increases are fairly minor, it’s still something to keep in mind as you shop for insurance. Additionally, since the average Illinois driver already logs over 12,000 miles per year on the road, it’s likely safe to assume that in general, most drivers will receive the rates offered for the longer commute length.
Best Car Insurance for Coverage Level Rates
Next, we’ll look at the level of coverage and how that can affect rates. Do you know how much coverage you need? Only you can answer the question of the right amount of coverage for you, but you should consider having a conversation about your needs, the risks you face, and your expectations with a licensed insurance agent, to find out what your options are.
For now, we compare average rates for low, medium, and high coverage to see how these different levels can affect your rates in Chicago in the below table.
Most of the companies listed increase their rates with each increasing level of coverage. In moving from low to medium coverage, rates increase from between 2 and nearly 10 percent. However, when you move from medium to high coverage, while the rate increases range between 4 and 11 percent, two companies actually decrease their rates slightly.
American Family’s rates decrease by about 3.4 percent, while Nationwide’s rates drop about 0.4 percent from medium to high coverage.
The best rates for each level of coverage are listed below:
- High coverage: Liberty Mutual and USAA, $2,649.53 and $3,026.74 respectively
- Medium coverage: Liberty Mutual and USAA, $2,823.75 and $3,241.46 respectively
- Low coverage: Liberty Mutual and USAA, $3,022.31 and $3,462.49 respectively
Best Car Insurance for Credit History Rates
What about credit score? You may have heard that some companies factor in your credit score when they adjust your rates. Recall that insurance companies are basing most of their rate adjustments on perceived risk.
When you have a good credit score, financial institutions consider you low-risk from the perspective of offering you loans, credit cards, and good interest rates. Similarly, insurance companies see your credit score as an indicator of your overall responsibility, and thus, the higher your credit score, the lower the risk you are to insure.
Just how much can your credit score affect your rates in the Windy City? Take a look at this table to find out.
As we’ve seen already, Liberty Mutual has the most affordable rates overall, with USAA a close second. However, both of those companies have higher increases based on different credit scores than some of the other companies listed.
Experian lists the ranges for good, fair, and poor credit, which we’ve noted below. We’ve also included the average rates for each credit score range in Chicago:
- Good credit (670+): $3,585.24
- Fair credit (580-669): $4,170.03
- Poor credit (300-579): $5,851.35
The differences in rates based on credit scores vary significantly across the listed companies. For example, from fair to poor credit, rates increase from between 17.7 and 107.04 percent, while from good to fair credit, rates increase between 5.18 and 29.11 percent.
From the perspective or rate changes, if you have poor or fair credit, Progressive or Farmers may be worth considering, as they have the lowest increases over good credit at 17.7 and 19.14 for poor credit and 8.03 and 5.18 for fair credit, respectively.
Like all the factors we’ve discussed so far, credit score is yet another variable to keep in mind as you shop for car insurance in the Windy City.
Best Car Insurance for Driving Record Rates
Probably the most obvious variable insurance companies consider when adjusting your rates is driving record. It is certainly the most direct correlation for them to make when looking at how much risk you pose as a potential insured, because they have a directly related track record to consider.
With that in mind, how does driving record affect your rates in Chicago? Take a look at this table to review the data we’ve pulled on average rates for a clean driving record compared to average rates for a driving record that includes one speeding violation, one accident, and one DUI.
|Insurance Company||Clean record||With 1 accident||With 1 DUI||With 1 speeding violation||Average|
For a clean record, USAA and Liberty Mutual are still the most affordable, with average rates of $2,297.61 and $2,348.76, respectively. But when we start looking at the various traffic violations, the companies with the most affordable rates vary depending on the type of violation.
Purely from a dollars and cents perspective, the most affordable company for each traffic violation type is listed below:
- With one accident, the most affordable insurance companies are USAA and Liberty Mutual, with average rates of $3,329.15 and $3,360.15, respectively
- With one DUI, the most affordable insurance companies are Liberty Mutual and State Farm, with average rates of $2,942.07 and $3,319.17, respectively
- With one speeding violation, the most affordable insurance companies are Liberty Mutual and USAA, with average rates of $2,676.46 and $2,778.39, respectively
However, if you look at this from the perspective of the percent increase in rates for each different kind of violation, the results are markedly different:
- With one accident, the insurance companies with the lowest rate increases are State Farm and Farmers, with rate increase of 20.16 and 29.28 percent, respectively
- With one DUI, the insurance companies with the lowest rate increases are State Farm and Progressive, with rate increases of 10.08 and 10.95 percent, respectively
- With one speeding violation, the insurance companies with the lowest rate increases are State Farm and American Family, with rate increases of 10.08 and 13.34 percent, respectively
What are some car insurance factors in Chicago?
Insurance companies look at more than just factors that affect individual insureds when they adjust rates. There are larger, more city-centric statistics and data to consider when thinking about car insurance.
Some of these include city growth and prosperity, education levels, household incomes, home ownership rates, and more.
We’ll spend the next several sections looking at data on these and other topics, so you can form a fuller picture of the state of Chicago and how car insurance fits within that picture, so keep reading to learn more.
Chicago Metro Report
We’ll begin by looking at trends provided by the Brookings Metro Report on growth and prosperity trends in Chicago to see whether the city’s growth and prosperity are on the rise or not, as both of these factors can have significant effects on crime rates, the local economy, population growth, and more.
Please keep in mind this data is for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area, rather than Chicago alone. For this metro area, prosperity is on the rise, and for this variable, it is ranked 57 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country.
The Brookings Report takes three factors into consideration when determining overall prosperity trends, which are listed below, with their associated increase or decrease for the ten-year period of 2007–2017.
- Productivity: increased by 4.7 percent, putting it at 58 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
- Standard of living: increased by 5.2 percent, putting it at 38 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
- Average annual wages: increased by 3.6 percent, putting it at 73 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
An increase in productivity specifically refers to some kind of increase as the result of new innovation or an improvement in the workforce skill set. An increase in productivity and wages means an increase in the overall standard of living.
For the same 10-year period, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area is also growing, and is ranked at 72 out of the top 100 metro areas in the country. The factors considered when determining growth are listed below, along with their individual increase/decrease and rankings:
- Jobs: increased by 2.6 percent, putting it at 68 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
- Gross metropolitan product (GMP): increased by 7.4 percent, putting it at 70 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
- Jobs at young firms: decreased by 19.5 percent, putting it at 62 out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country
As you might assume, job growth is a positive indicator of growth. The increase in GMP indicates that both goods and services increased. However, the decrease in jobs at young firms is a less positive sign, as it means there was an overall decrease in entrepreneurial employment.
Despite the decrease in jobs at young firms, the overall picture for growth and prosperity in the Chicago area is positive. As jobs, wages, and the standard of living increase, crime rates may decrease, which can result in a decrease in your car insurance rates.
Median Household Income
Growth and prosperity data is great, but what does this mean for cash in your pocket? The median household income in Chicago, according to DataUSA, is $57,238 per year in 2018, which is a 3.51 percent increase over the median income of the city in 2017. This supports the upward trending growth and prosperity data we looked at in the last section.
However, the Windy City’s median income is about 8 percent lower than the national median income of $61,937 and is about 12 percent lower than the Illinois median income of $65,030.
How much of that annual income do residents of the Windy City end up spending on car insurance? Take a look at this table to find out:
|Annual Car Insurance Premium||Annual Income||% of Income|
Nearly 8 percent of the median income in Chicago is spent on car insurance each year. Thus, finding the most affordable coverage for your needs is likely an important piece of your financial budgeting.
You can use the link below to how much of your annual income is spent on insurance.
Homeownership in Chicago
Do you own or rent your home? It turns out that if you own your home, you may receive lower car insurance rates from your insurer.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, home ownership is another variable insurance companies see as a sign of responsibility, which they take as a sign that you’ll be a lower risk insured. Second, if you own your home, you’ll need to purchase homeowner’s insurance as well, and many insurance companies offer discounts if you bundle your home and car insurance.
So what are the statistics for homeownership in Chicago? According to the same DataUSA report, in 2018, about 45.7 percent of residents owned their homes, which is a 0.8 percent increase from 2017. To frame these numbers, we compare them to the national, state, and metro area home ownership rates, below:
- Across the country, the average for homeownership is 63.9 percent, which is 39.82 percent higher than Chicago’s homeownership rate
- In Illinois, the average for homeownership is 66.1 percent, which is 44.64 percent higher than in Chicago
- In the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area, the average for homeownership is 64.4 percent, which is 40.92 percent higher than Chicago’s homeownership rate
Education in Chicago
Higher education typically means higher wages and a better standard of living, which you already know can result in lower crime rates, and thus lower insurance rates. Additionally, some insurance companies take your personal education level into account when adjusting your rates (though we don’t look at insurance rates based on education here).
There are a number of institutions of higher education in Chicago form which residents (and others) can obtain degrees. In 2017, a combined total of 61,544 degrees were awarded by colleges in the Windy City.
The three largest universities in Chicago, based on the number of degrees awarded, are:
- University of Illinois at Chicago (7,605 degrees awarded in 2017)
- DePaul University (6,411 degrees awarded in 2017)
- DeVry University-Illinois (6,349 degrees awarded in 2017)
DataUSA reports that the three most common areas of study are general biological sciences, general business administration and management, and general psychology.
There are a number of other colleges, and technical and trade schools student can attend and obtain degrees from, which include:
- Chicago State University
- City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Harry S Truman College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Olive-Harvey College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J Daley College
- City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College
- Columbia College-Chicago
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Loyola University Chicago
- National Louis University
- Northeastern Illinois University
- Robert Morris University Illinois
- Roosevelt University
- Saint Xavier University
- University of Chicago
Wage by Race and Ethnicity in Common Jobs in Chicago
With information from the same DataUSA report we’ve been referencing so far (and we’ll continue to reference), take a look at this table to see the average income for different job families in Chicago, based on race.
|Job Title||Asian||White||Two or More Races||Black||Other|
|Elementary & Middle School Teachers||$37,877.00||$52,632.00||$46,227.00||$43,853.00||$44,985.00|
|Driver/Sales Workers & Truck Drivers||$34,061.00||$46,844.00||$17,539.00||$40,527.00||$44,637.00|
|Customer Service Representatives||$39,645.00||$35,755.00||$36,170.00||$31,765.00||$27,842.00|
As you can see, Asians are the highest earners in the job families of other managers and customer service representatives. Whites make the most as elementary and middle school teachers and driver/sales workers and truck drivers. Finally, Blacks earn the most as cashiers.
Taking the data from the above table, we calculated the average percentage of annual income that is spent on car insurance by elementary and middle school teachers for the same races and ethnicities. Take a look at this table to see what we found.
|Annual Car Insurance Premium||Annual Income for Elementary & Middle School Teachers||% of Income Spent on Car Insurance||Race/Ethnicity|
|$4,497.74||$46,227.00||9.73%||Two or More Races|
The lower your income, the higher percentage of it will be allocated for car insurance.
This means (and is shown above) that Asians, who make the least amount as elementary and middle school teachers of the races and ethnicities listed, will end up spending the highest percentage of their incomes on car insurance. In fact, an average of 11.87 percent of their annual income will be spent on car insurance.
Wage by Gender in Common Jobs in Chicago
In looking at the wage disparity between men and women, DataUSA only provides statistics on wages earned at the state level, rather than in Chicago specifically.
In Illinois, in 2018, across all job types, men make an average of $74,713 per year, while women make an average of $55,889 each year. This means men make an average of 33.14 percent more each year than women do.
To look at this wage gape with a bit more granularity, we look at the difference between wages for men and women in the same five job families we discussed in the previous section.
|Gender||Other Managers||Elementary & Middle School Teachers||Driver/Sales Workers & Truck Drivers||Customer Service Representatives||Cashiers|
Based on the overall wage gap we already noted, it shouldn’t be a surprise that for the job families listed, men consistently make more than women, though the specific gaps in wage vary by job family.
For example, male driver/sales workers and truck drivers make 69 percent more than females in the same job family do. However, male cashiers only make about 4 percent more than female cashiers.
To take this a step further, we again calculated the percentage of annual income that is spent on insurance in each job family, but for both men and women in this case, rather than by race and ethnicity.
|Gender||Other Managers||Elementary & Middle School Teachers||Driver/Sales Workers & Truck Drivers||Customer Service Representatives||Cashiers|
The data supports what we already know; higher earnings mean less income allocated to car insurance premiums. As such, women, on average, spend more of their income on insurance than men do.
Because the biggest wage gap between men and women is found among driver/sales workers and truck drivers, the largest gap in percent of income spent on car insurance is also in that job family.
Poverty by Age and Gender in Chicago
Now that we’ve discussed wages based on gender, race, and ethnicity, we’ll turn our attention to poverty rates for the same demographics, starting with poverty rates by age and gender.
Overall, 20.6 percent of the population in the Windy City live below the poverty line, which is 57 percent more than the national average of 13.1 percent of the same. We’ve summarized DataUSA’s information on poverty rates by age and gender in the below table.
For children ages 11 and under, more males live below the poverty line than females. However, at age 12, the pattern flips, and from that point on, there are more women in poverty than men.
Women ages 25 to 34 make up the largest single percentage of the population living below the poverty line, at 8.9 percent. However, the largest disparity between men and women living below the poverty line occurs at age 75 and older, where there are 122.66 percent more women living below the poverty line than men.
Poverty by Race and Ethnicity in Chicago
Now that we’ve looked at poverty by gender and age, we’ll consider poverty by race and ethnicity. We’ve summarized DataUSA’s statistics for Chicago in this table.
|Race||Percentage Living in Poverty|
|Two or More||1.88%|
The top three races and ethnicities for poverty are black, white, and Hispanic, in that order. Of those living in poverty, 36.1 percent are black, 24.7 percent are white, and 23.4 percent are Hispanic. From a car insurance perspective, more black, white, and Hispanic families have a high percentage of their incomes being spent on car insurance than the other races and ethnicities included in the table.
Employment by Occupations
Now that we’ve discussed wage and poverty statistics, we’ll take a few moments to look at the distribution of employment across the most common job families in Chicago.
On a positive note, employment in Chicago increased by 1.27 percent between 2017 and 2018 (the total number of employed individuals increased from 1.35 million to 1.37 million), which reflects the growth and prosperity data we looked at earlier.
Below is our summary of DataUSA’s statistics on the percentage of employees in each of the most common job families in the Windy City.
|Job Family||Percentage Employed|
|Office & Administrative Support Occupations||11.00%|
|Sales & Related Occupations||9.85%|
|Business & Financial Operations Occupations||7.77%|
|Education Instruction, & Library Occupations||6.03%|
|Food Preparation & Serving Related Occupations||5.87%|
|Health Diagnosing & Treating Practitioners & Other Technical Occupations||3.98%|
|Computer & Mathematical Occupations||3.83%|
|Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance Occupations||3.72%|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||3.38%|
|Material Moving Occupations||3.28%|
|Personal Care & Service Occupations||3.25%|
|Construction & Extraction Occupations||3.18%|
|Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, & Media Occupations||2.84%|
|Community & Social Service Occupations||2.20%|
|Fire Fighting & Prevention, & Other Protective Service Workers Including Supervisors||1.93%|
|Installation, Maintenance, & Repair Occupations||1.71%|
|Health Technologists & Technicians||1.45%|
|Law Enforcement Workers Including Supervisors||1.33%|
|Architecture & Engineering Occupations||1.31%|
|Life, Physical, & Social Science Occupations||0.99%|
The jobs listed in this table cover 99 percent of the occupations in the Windy City.
When we compare this data to some of the other job-related statistics we’ve discussed, we can see that management occupations, for example, account for nearly 10 percent of the workforce, and are fairly high-paying. Of the five job families we looked at earlier, the “other mangers” category had the highest salaries by a significant margin.
Overall the largest job families by employment in Chicago are:
- Office and administrate support occupations
- Management occupations
- Sales and related occupations
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Driving in Chicago
We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about insurance rates in Chicago, as well as general employment, wage, and poverty data for the Windy City.
Now its time to start talking about what happens when you actually get behind in the wheel. Where are the busiest highways? Do you have to pay tolls? What are the road conditions like? What about safety? Are there a high number of road fatalities in the city?
Answering these questions can help you narrow down what you need for car insurance, as well as ensure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way as you drive on the streets of Chicago.
Keep reading to learn more about these and other road statistics in the Windy City.
What are the major roads in Chicago?
We’ll start by looking at the roads in Chicago. What are the main highways? Do you need to be on the lookout for red-light or speed cameras? What is the condition of the roads in the Windy City?
Over the next several sections, we’ll answer these questions and provide you with other important information you should know as you drive in Chicago.
Major Highways in Chicago
There are a total of 24 highways in Illinois, totaling 2,203.42 miles of highway. We’ve listed every highway in the state: I-24, I-39, I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70, I-72, I-74, I-80, I-88, I-90, I-94, I-155, I-255, I-355, I-270, I-172, I-474, I-180, I-280, I-190, I-290, I-390, I-490, I-294, I-494
There are five toll roads in Illinois, which we’ve listed below.
Jane Addams (Northwest) Tollway (which runs along I-90)
- For personal vehicles, the tolls are the same regardless of the time of day
- Single pass-through tolls range between $0.60 and $3, depending on which toll station you pass through when you pay cash
- If you have an I-PASS, your toll rates will range between $0.30 and $1.50 for a single pass-through
Tri-State Tollway (which runs along I-94, I-80, and I-294)
- For personal vehicles, the tolls are the same regardless of the time of day
- Single pass-through tolls range between $0.60 and $2.80, depending on which toll station you pass through when you pay cash
- If you have an I-PASS, your toll rates will range between $0.30 and $0.95 for a single pass-through
Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (which runs along I-88)
- For personal vehicles, the tolls are the same regardless of the time of day
- Single pass-through tolls range between $0.60 and $3.60, depending on which toll station you pass through when you pay cash
- If you have an I-PASS, your toll rates will range between $0.30 and $1.80 for a single pass-through
Veterans Memorial (North-South) Tollway (which runs along the I-355)
- For personal vehicles, the tolls are the same regardless of the time of day
- Single pass-through tolls range between $0.90 and $3.80, depending on which toll station you pass through when you pay cash
- If you have an I-PASS, your toll rates will range between $0.45 and $1.90 for a single pass-through
Illinois Route 390 Tollway
- For personal vehicles, the tolls are the same regardless of the time of day
- Single pass-through tolls range between $0.40 and $1.20, depending on which toll station you pass through when you pay cash
- If you have an I-PASS, your toll rates will range between $0.20 and $0.60 for a single pass-through
An I-PASS is a way to prepay for tolls, so you can drive on toll-roads without stopping. Additionally, if you have an I-PASS, as you saw above, you’ll likely receive a discounted price for tolls.
I-PASS is accepted through the E-ZPass system in a number of other states in the country as well, so if you’re taking a road trip, you may already be covered for the tollways you’ll drive through outside the state.
At one time (before 1980), I-80 had more split routes than any other highway in the United States. However, none of them exist anymore.
I-90 is the longest interstate route in the country.
Illinois is home to only one high-priority corridor. High-priority corridors are segments of highway that the Federal Highway Administration has designated as future interstates. The one in Illinois is High Priority Corridor 18: NAFTA Superhighway, which includes portions of the I-94 highway.
Popular Road Trips/Sites
Road trip, anyone? If you get behind the wheel in Chicago, there are nearly endless options for road trips and places to visit in and around the city, as well as throughout the state. Below, we’ve listed just a few different ideas for your consideration, as well as a quick vacation guide for the city.
- Chicago Botanic Garden: This unique site is one of the most visited botanic gardens in the country. Its doors officially opened in 1973, and over the years, it has expanded to 385 acres of gardens and native habitats. Visitors can wander the gardens, take a tram tour, attend special events, check out the library, take classes at the adult education center, and more.
- Legoland Discovery Center Chicago: At 30,000 square feet, Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago was the first indoor Lego theme park in the country. While you’re there, you can take a factory tour to learn every step in the process of creating Legos, watch 3D films, take a ride through a medieval castle, and even explore the Lego-model of Chicago.
- Pullman Historic District Chicago: Pullman, an industrial community and the first of its kind in the country, was opened in May of 1880. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still an active residential area. Visitors can take various tours, check out the Pullman National Monument, and experience events hosted by the visitor’s center and Historic Pullman Foundation.
Road Conditions in Chicago
Poor road conditions can have real consequences both for your safety and for the wear-and-tear on your vehicle.
So what do the roads look like in Chicago? We collected data from the TRIP Urban Roads Report in 2018 and summarized it below:
- Good: 22 percent
- Fair: 14 percent
- Mediocre: 35 percent
- Poor: 28 percent
The result of the pavement conditions in Chicago is an additional $627 in vehicle operating costs (VOC) per vehicle. The average VOC as a result of road conditions for all the metropolitan areas in the nation with a population of 500,000 or more is $567.
This means residents of the Windy City can expect to pay about 11 percent more in VOC than the national average of the same.
Does Chicago use speeding or red-light cameras?
Ever been driving a little bit too fast through an intersection and see that flash of light that signals a speeding camera took a photo of your license plate? If so, you know a ticket is coming your way in the near future.
Not every urban area currently makes use of red-light or speed cameras, as both are considered somewhat controversial. However, in Illinois, both red-light and speed cameras are prevalent.
In Chicago, there are currently about 900 red-light cameras and an additional 160 or so speed cameras. If you want to know exactly where the speed and red-light cameras are in the city, you can visit the Chicago Traffic Tracker website, which is managed by the Chicago Department of Transportation.
What type of vehicles are in Chicago?
Residents of the United States, possibly more than any other population else in the world, are known for driving their own vehicles. Some of this is due to the urban sprawl and wide-open spaces much of the country is characterized by, but it is also just as likely to be the result of the spirit of independence that is so deeply entrenched in this country.
We love our vehicles, whether they be statements about our socioeconomic status or simply a way to get around. So what do vehicles look like in the Windy City?
Over the next few sections, we’ll take a look at car ownership per household, the most popular vehicle in the city, theft statistics, and more.
Most Popular Vehicles Owned
One of the Windy City’s residents’ favorite vehicles is the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This vehicle is not currently being manufactured but was built and sold by Chevrolet primarily between the years of 1970 and 2007.
Typically built with either a V6 or V8 engine, it can be a bit of a gas guzzler, especially in older versions of the vehicle.
However, for versions of this vehicle built in 1995 or later, gas mileage is acceptable, with about 15–20 miles per gallon in the city, and an average of 25–30 miles per gallon on the highway, depending on the exact model.
For a 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
- Five stars for frontal crash
- Four stars for rear passenger in a side crash
- Three stars for driver in a side crash
- Four stars for rollover
For a 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
- Five stars for frontal crash
- Four stars for rear passenger in a side crash
- Three stars for driver in a side crash
- Four stars for rollover
How Many Cars Per Household
As of 2018, DataUSA reports that the majority of households in Chicago, 39.5 percent, only own one vehicle (compared to the national average of 20.2 percent). The next highest percents of households own two vehicles at 30 percent (compared to the national average of 40.3 percent).
Households owning either one or two vehicles make up nearly 70 percent of the households in the Windy City. The remaining households owning vehicles are distributed in the following categories:
- Three vehicles: 9.27 percent, compared to the national average of 21.5 percent
- Four vehicles: 3.54 percent, compared to the national average of 9.23 percent
- Five vehicles: 1.34 percent, compared to the national average of 4.56 percent
Households Without a Car
You’ll notice in the previous section, we addressed car ownership, but did not discuss the percentage of households that don’t own any vehicles. With the exception of household ownership of only one vehicle, every category for the number of vehicles owned per household was lower than the national average.
This is likely because a significant number of households in the Windy City do not own any vehicles. We’ve included the percentage of households that own no vehicles for 2015 and 2016 in the below table.
|Year||Households without Vehicles||Vehicles per Household|
The number of households without vehicles increased from 2015 to 2016. The high percentage of households without vehicles may be due to a couple of factors.
First, recall that 20 percent of the population lives in poverty. This may account for some of the households that do not own any vehicles.
Second, (and we’ll go into more detail on this in a later section), there are a number of public transportation options for residents, which may mean not everyone feels the need to own a vehicle.
Speed Traps in Chicago
As you saw in an earlier section, Chicago makes use of speed cameras to help curb reckless driving and increase the safety of drivers on the road in the city. But what about “speed traps”? Are there any in Chicago?
Speedtrap.org provides driver-reported information on speed traps in cities across the United States. While Chicago is not individually listed in their data, a number of suburbs and areas considered part of the greater Chicago metropolitan area are included. We’ve listed those below, along with the number of drive-reported speed traps in the area.
- Stickney: two speed traps
- Alsip: one speed trap
- Des Plaines: one speed trap
- Golf: one speed trap
- Hanover Park: one speed trap
Vehicle Theft in Chicago
You already know that crime rates in your area (specifically your ZIP code) can affect your car insurance rates. As promised, we’ll now take a few minutes to look at specific crime rates for Chicago, so you can have an idea of the city-wide crime statistics.
The FBI reported that 10,132 vehicles were stolen in 2018 alone.
With such a high number of car thefts in the city, and knowing that car theft is something car insurance companies factor into your rates adjustment, it may be worth having a conversation with your insurance agent about what coverage options you have and what can be added to your policy to increase your protection, in the event this happens to you.
Car theft is hardly the only type of crime that takes place in any city, including Chicago, and it’s not the only factor that affects the overall crime statistics in your area that insurers look at when adjusting rates.
We’ve used data from Neighborhood Scout (a data and analytics company that focuses on the real estate market) to provide you with some high-level crime statistics for the Windy City.
The safest neighborhood in Chicago is the S Western Ave/W 99th Street area.
Chicago’s crime index is seven out of 100. This means that the Windy City is safer than 7 percent of cities in the United States.
For violent crime, the rate in Chicago is 10.12 out of 1,000 residents, and for property crime, it is 32.48 out of 1,000 residents. Combining these two crime rates, the overall crime rate in the Windy City is 42.6 out of 1,000.
The national median for violent crime is four per 1,000 residents, which means the Windy City’s violent crime rate is 153 percent higher than the national median. Additionally, it is 150 percent than the Illinois average of 4.04 per 1,000 residents.
In other words, your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime in Chicago is one out of 99 people, as opposed to the chances in Illinois as a whole of one out of 247 people.
The national median for property crime is 24 per 1,000 residents, which means the Windy City’s property crime rate is 35.33 percent higher than the national median. Additionally, it is 68 percent than the Illinois average of 19.33 per 1,000 residents.
In other words, your chances of becoming the victim of a property crime in Chicago is one out of 31 people, as opposed to the chances in Illinois as a whole of one out of 52 people.
Finally, Neighborhood Scout reports the number of crimes, on average:
- Chicago: 499 per square mile
- Illinois: 33 per square mile
- United States: 31.1 per square mile
How is traffic in Chicago?
Do you feel like you spend hours each week sitting in traffic, just wasting time? Regardless of where you live, to some extent, traffic is a fact of life. However, the bigger and more densely-populated a city or metropolitan area, the more traffic congestion residents typically face. So what does this look like in Chicago?
We’ll take the next few minutes to go over traffic congestion data, transportation methods, the busiest highways in the Windy City, as well as road safety statistics, and more.
Keep reading to find out how traffic and congestion and transportation options can affect your commute.
If you live in Chicago or the surrounding areas, you know traffic is bad. But just how bad is it?
According to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, Chicago is ranked third in the country for worst traffic congestion, beating both NYC and Los Angeles. Only Boston and Washington D.C. have worse traffic congestion in the United States.
Chicago is also ranked 23rd in the world for traffic congestion (as compared to fourth-ranked NYC, which is ranked 40th in the world). To see some statistics, take a look at this table to see just how much time drivers in Chicago lose sitting in traffic, as well as a few other key numbers.
|City||Hours Lost in Congestion||Cost of Congestion per Driver||Inner City Last Mile Speed (MPH)|
Finally, below we have INRIX’s data on the difference between peak, off-peak, and free-flow traffic speeds:
- Peak Traffic Speed: 23.04 mph
- Off-Peak Traffic: 42.11 mph
- Free-Flow Traffic: 51.1 mph
There are a number of ideas being considered on how to improve the traffic congestion in the city, including taxes for traffic congestion and driving alone (as opposed to carpooling). However, to date, nothing has been decided.
We’ll return to the DataUSA report for some statistics on commute time and transportation choices for the Windy City to better understand the traffic congestion data we just discussed.
Currently, the average commute time in Chicago is 33.5 minutes, which is just over 30 percent higher than the United States average of 25.7 minutes. This shouldn’t be very surprising, given that we know Chicago is ranked third in the nation for traffic congestion. It is also 22 percent higher than the Illinois state average of 27.4 minutes.
For those commuters who drive their own vehicles to and from work (and in a moment we’ll look at how many Chicago residents do this as opposed to using other forms of transportation), the cost for your vehicle is an additional $1,920 per year, just due to the wear-and-tear your vehicle will face, spending so much time sitting in traffic.
You also already know, the more time and distance you log on the road, the higher your insurance rates may be, due to the risks involved with spending more time behind the wheel.
So how many people in the Windy City are driving themselves to and from work each day? Currently, 48.9 percent of commuters drive alone to work. This is 33 percent lower than the national average of 76.3 percent of commuters.
Additionally, 28.3 percent of Chicago commuters made use of the available public transit options, as compared to the national average of 9.24 percent. The third highest commuter category is those that carpool, making up about 8.33 percent of the commuter population in the Windy City, which is just under the national average of 8.99 percent.
We know traffic is rough in the Windy City, but where are the busiest highways? According to the Department of Transportation, two of the highways that run through the Chicago metropolitan fall into their list of the 43 highways with the most lanes in the country:
- Route 53, with 12 lanes
- The I-90, with 12 lanes
We also looked at a recent Texas A&andM Transportation Institute Mobility Report to find out what rush hour, and highway congestion looks like at a high-level in the Windy City.
- Rush hours per day: 3.6
- Percentage of highway lane miles that are congested: 13.4 percent
How safe are Chicago streets and roads?
When you’re behind the wheel in Chicago, how safe are you? What are the vehicle-involved road fatality rates for Cook and Du Page Counties (the primary counties within which Chicago resides)?
We collected NHTSA Illinois State Crash Report data for both Cook and Du Page Counties so you can see the traffic safety statistics for the area.
In this table, we’ve collected 2018 crash-type fatality data:
|Crash Type||Number of Fatalities 2018||Fatalities per 100K Population 2018|
|Cook County All Types||264||5.1|
|Cook County Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver||82||1.58|
|Cook County Involving a Single Vehicle||141||2.72|
|Cook County Involving Speeding||134||2.59|
|Cook County Involving a Roadway Departure||88||1.7|
|Cook County Involving an Intersection||101||1.95|
|Du Page County All Types||38||4.09|
|Du Page County Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver||13||1.4|
|Du Page County Involving a Single Vehicle||15||1.62|
|Du Page County Involving Speeding||20||2.15|
|Du Page County Involving a Roadway Departure||19||2.05|
|Du Page County Involving an Intersection||12||1.29|
For 2018, there were a total of 302 vehicle-involved fatalities in Chicago (specifically Cook and Du Page Counties). It is immediately obvious when looking at the above table that the fatalities in Cook County far exceed the fatalities in Du Page County.
In looking at this data, it is important to note that more than one crash-type factor was involved in some of these vehicle-involved fatalities. This becomes clear when looking at the data, as you can see that while Cook and Du Page Counties have 264 and 38 fatalities, respectively, there were a total of 546 crash types in Cook County and a total of 79 crash types in Du Page County.
Let’s take a closer look at Cook County for a moment to see this in more detail by comparing each crash type to the total number of fatalities:
- There were 82 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver, indicating 31.1 percent of the fatalities involved this crash type
- There were 141 fatalities involving a single vehicle, indicating 53.4 percent of the fatalities involved this crash type
- There were 134 fatalities involving speeding, indicating 51 percent of the fatalities involved this crash type
- There were 88 fatalities involving roadway departure, indicating 33 percent of the fatalities involved this crash type
- There were 101 fatalities involving an intersection, indicating 38.3 percent of the fatalities involved this crash type
In looking at the data this way, it also becomes clear that speeding is a serious issue in Cook County, as speeding was a factor in over 50 percent of the vehicle-involved fatalities in 2018.
From the same NHTSA report, we also summarized data on the different fatality types in Cook and Du Page Counties in 2018:
|Fatality Type||Number of Fatalities 2018||Fatalities per 100K Population 2018|
|Cook County Passenger Car Occupant||110||2.12|
|Cook County Pedestrian Fatalities||75||1.45|
|Cook County Pedalcyclist Fatalities||11||0.21|
|Du Page County Passenger Car Occupant||16||1.72|
|Du Page County Pedestrian Fatalities||4||0.43|
|Du Page County Pedalcyclist Fatalities||0||0|
For further granularity, we collected NHTSA Fatalities Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia data to find out which road types have the most fatal crashes in Illinois. Take a look.
|Illinois Road Types||Number of Crashes|
|Freeway and Expressway||2|
|Total Fatal Crashes||948|
For reference, collector arterial roads are the connection between local streets and major and minor arterial roads. Major and minor arterial roads are usually high-traffic and support major areas of activity. They also include rural and urban interstates, freeways, and highways. In general, they support the largest amounts of traffic and the longest trip distances.
It’s clear based on this data that fatalities can occur on any kind of road, but some of the more fatal include minor and collector arterial roads. No matter what kind of road you’re on you should always maintain situational awareness, drive defensively, and follow the posted speed limits.
We’ve also included the U.S. Department of Transportation data on railroad crossing incidents in the below table.
|Calendar Year||County||Highway User Speed (MPH)||Highway||Highway User Type||Rail Equipment Type|
|2012||COOK||0||GLENVIEW ROAD||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2012||COOK||5||YARD UP PRIVATE||Truck-trailer||Cut of Cars|
|2012||COOK||0||QUENTIN FAU 2574 ROA||Automobile||Commuter|
|2012||COOK||30||W 122ND STREET||Van||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||15||103RD ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||0||TORRENCE AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||5||GRAND AVE.||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||123RD ST||Pedestrian||Light Loco(s)|
|2012||COOK||10||PRIVATE||Truck-trailer||Cut of Cars|
|2012||COOK||5||RHODIA PLANT/INDUSTR||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)|
|2012||COOK||1||168TH STREET||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||2||YARD UP PRIVATE||Truck-trailer||Cut of Cars|
|2012||COOK||2||PRIVATE YARD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||0||LONG COMMON RD||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||HARDING AVENUE||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||3||BELMONT AVE.||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||20||55TH AND KENTON||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||COOK||THATCHER AVENUE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||15||FAU1592/E 130TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||E. 47TH & BLUFF||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||DES PLAINES RIVER RO||Automobile||Commuter|
|2013||COOK||16||5345 S. LONG AVE.||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||SOUTHWEST HWY||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||10||167TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||MAIN ST FAU3603||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||STATE STREET||Pedestrian||Light Loco(s)|
|2013||COOK||NORTHWEST HWY/US14||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||CHICAGO RD||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||KOSTNER AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||10||95TH STREET||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2013||COOK||3||RR ACCESS RD||Truck-trailer||Yard/Switch|
|2013||COOK||5||PRIVATE RD||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)|
|2013||COOK||2||PERRY AV||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||137TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||5||105TH STREET||Automobile||Special MOW Eq|
|2013||COOK||2||RR ACCESS RD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||FAU1592/E 130TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||COOK||0||RACINE AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||5||162ND ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||N. PLUM GROVE ROAD||Automobile||C|
|2014||COOK||0||WENTWORTH AV||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||HARLEM AVE||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2014||COOK||7||LAWNDALE AVE||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||99TH ST||Pick-up truck||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||RACINE AVE||Automobile||Light Loco(s)|
|2014||COOK||0||97TH STREET||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||DESPLAINES RIVER RD||Automobile||Commuter|
|2014||COOK||35||147TH STREET||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||BRYN MAWR AVENUE||Pedestrian||Commuter|
|2014||COOK||LA GRANGE RD||Pedestrian||Psgr Train|
|2014||COOK||0||CERMAK RD||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||10||95TH STREET||Automobile||Light Loco(s)|
|2014||COOK||0||W 104TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||WOLF ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||5||RR ACCESS RD||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)|
|2014||COOK||4||E. END BENS. YARD||Van||Yard/Switch|
|2014||COOK||15||139TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||2||WOOD ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||COOK||0||FIRST AVE.||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||30||LIVELY BLVD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||5||RR ACCESS RD||Truck-trailer||Yard/Switch|
|2015||COOK||CH 69/BURNHAM AVE||Pedestrian||Yard/Switch|
|2015||COOK||0||LAWNDALE AVE||Automobile||Light Loco(s)|
|2015||COOK||5||RR ACCESS ROAD||Pick-up truck||Light Loco(s)|
|2015||COOK||10||122ND ST.||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||5||122ND STREET||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)|
|2015||COOK||30||KILBOURNE AVENUE||Automobile||Light Loco(s)|
|2015||COOK||LINCOLN AVE||Pedestrian||Psgr Train|
|2015||COOK||10||PROVISO YD PVT||Truck-trailer||Single Car|
|2015||COOK||0||FIRST AVENUE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||0||LEMONT ST.||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||5||CITY ST/STONEY ISLAN||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||FAU2867/RACINE AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||5||YARD ACCESS CROSSING||Truck-trailer||Yard/Switch|
|2015||COOK||47TH STREET||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||25||ASHLAND AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||0||CH 69/BURNHAM AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||0||123RD ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||30||CHATHAM ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||35||107TH AVENUE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||COOK||5||PRIVATE CROSSING||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||87TH AND PULASKI||Automobile||C|
|2016||COOK||8||PLUM GROVE RD.||Automobile||C|
|2016||COOK||SHERMER ROAD||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||PLUM GROVE RD.||Automobile||C|
|2016||COOK||3||RIDGELAND AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||7||PRIVATE CROSSING||Truck-trailer||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||2||MAIN ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||WENTWORTH AVENUE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||RIDGELAND AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||20||119TH ST||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2016||COOK||2||138th ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||15||59TH ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||; CALDWELL AVE||Automobile||B|
|2016||COOK||0||WEST GRAND AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||LINCOLN AVENUE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||COOK||0||153RD ST||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2016||COOK||1||RACINE AVE.||Automobile||Cut of Cars|
|2012||DU PAGE||3||DIEHL RD||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2012||DU PAGE||0||GARFIELD AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2013||DU PAGE||CASS AVE||Pedestrian||Light Loco(s)|
|2013||DU PAGE||0||FOREST AVE||Pedestrian||B|
|2013||DU PAGE||ADDISON STREET||Pedestrian||Commuter|
|2013||DU PAGE||0||ROHLWING ROAD||Automobile||C|
|2013||DU PAGE||0||MAIN STREET||Pedestrian||C|
|2014||DU PAGE||4||MAIN ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||DU PAGE||0||WEST AVENUE||Automobile||Commuter|
|2014||DU PAGE||6||LINCOLN ST||Automobile||Psgr Train|
|2014||DU PAGE||0||GARFIELD AVE||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2014||DU PAGE||0||SUNSET ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2015||DU PAGE||0||WALNUT STREET||Automobile||C|
|2015||DU PAGE||0||IRVING PARK ROAD||Automobile||C|
|2015||DU PAGE||0||MAIN ST.||Pedestrian||C|
|2015||DU PAGE||0||GARFIELD AVE||Automobile||C|
|2016||DU PAGE||5||ELIZABETH STREET||Automobile||Commuter|
|2016||DU PAGE||0||MAIN ST||Pedestrian||C|
|2016||DU PAGE||5||N GRACE ST||Automobile||Freight Train|
|2016||DU PAGE||0||HAVEN AVENUE||Pedestrian||Commuter|
|2016||DU PAGE||0||STOUGH ST||Pedestrian||Psgr Train|
Whenever you’re driving near a railway crossing, it is especially important to pay attention to and follow all posted signs and warnings.
Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report
Now that you know what fatality statistics look like for the Windy City, how safe are drivers in Chicago? Allstate produces an “America’s Best Drivers Report” each year, with just this information by looking at a couple of different factors (which we’ve listed in the below table) for the 200 largest cities in the country.
Take a look at this table to see where Chicago ranks for safe driving.
|Allstate Best Driver's Report Categories||Data|
|2018 Best Drivers Report Rating||129|
|Average Years Between Claims||7.7|
|Relative Claim Likilhood (compared to national average)||30.2|
|2018 Drivewise Hard-Braking Events per 1,000 Miles||27.3|
|2017 Best Drivers Report Ranking||129|
|Change in Ranking from 2017 to 2018||0|
|2018 Ranking After Controlling for Population Density||61|
|2018 Ranking After Controlling for Average Annual Precipitation||127|
As you can see, Chicago is currently ranked 129 out of 200 for the safest drivers in the country. Their rank is consistent between 2017 and 2018, and with population density adjustment, their ranking improves quite dramatically, to 61 out of 200. Finally, chances of drivers filing a claim are 30.2 percent, and claims are filed about every 7.7 years.
Chicago, like most cities in the country, permits transportation network companies (TNCs) to offer ridesharing services to visitors and residents. The main ridesharing options you have in the Windy City are Uber and Lyft, as well as some traditional taxi services.
Take a look at this table, where we used RideGuru to compare rates for the primary available ridesharing and taxi services available in Chicago:
|Arro (traditional taxi)||$79|
|Carmel (traditional taxi/limo service)||$79|
|Curb (traditional taxi)||$81|
To ensure we made an equitable comparison, we chose one starting location (Chicago O’Hare International Airport) and one destination (Pullman National Monument). As you can see, for basic rides, Uber and Lyft are significantly more affordable than traditional taxi services (on average, 40 percent lower rates).
For luxury rides (Uber Select, Uber Black, Lyft Premier, and Lyft Lux), the rides are significantly more expensive, but there is no equitable taxi service offered through RideGuru that we can make a luxury comparison to.
E-star Repair Shops
If you have a problem with your vehicle and need a repair, you want to know that the mechanic you take your vehicle to will provide you with honest and good quality service. So how can you be sure you’ve made a good choice in your mechanic?
One way to do this is to look for mechanic shops that are E-star certified. Any repair shop or mechanic that has is considered EStar is one you can be confident is high-quality, offers good customer service, and meets all the necessary environmental and EPA standards.
The top ten E-tar shops in Chicago are in this table, with their contact information.
|B&L Automotive Repair, Inc.||3830 N Kedzie Ave |
Chicago, IL 60618
P: (773) 463-1622
|Carstar Scolas Collision Center||9110 Ogden Ave|
Brookfield, IL 60513
P: (708) 485-7600
|Carstar Wally's Wrex||1200 E Golf Rd. |
Des Plaines, IL 60016
F: (847) 298-1218
|FIx Auto Skokie||8015 N Lawndale|
Skokie, IL 60076
P: (847) 676-0420
|Gerber - Chicago/Elston Ave.||4545 N Elston Ave|
Chicago, IL 60630
|Lasalle Body Shop - Erie||1005 W Huron Street|
Chicago IL 60642
P: (312) 337-3903
F: (312) 337-7486
|Paul Ries and Sons||3940 W Armitage Ave|
Chicago, IL 60647
P: (773) 227-8300
F: 773 227-8544
|Service King - Chicago Heights||311 N. Halsted St. |
Chicago Heights, IL 60411
P: (708) 755-9225
|Service King - Roseland||821 W 116th St|
Chicago, IL 60643
P: (773) 660-9400
|Tom and Jerry's Autobody - CF||5644 N Northwest Hwy |
Chicago, IL 60646
P: (773) 775-6767
F: (773) 775-5901
What is the weather like in Chicago?
Regardless of how safe of a driver you are, weather can negatively affect your and other drivers’ safety on the road. Why? Because the weather can affect your ability to see, the condition of the roads, and thus your ability to control your vehicle, maintain situational awareness, and more.
So what does weather in the Windy City look like? Take a look at this table (which we populated with U.S. Climate data) to find out:
|Annual High Temperature||59.3 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Annual Low Temperature||43.3 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Average Temperature||51.3 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Average Annual Precipitation (Rainfall)||39.04 inches|
|Average Annual Precipitation (Snowfall)||-|
Average weather patterns are great, but what about freak events? Do residents in Chicago need to be prepared for weather beyond the norm?
There are an average of 19 natural disasters declared in Cook County each year, which is 46 percent higher than the national average of 13. Of these, 15 have been declared major disasters by the sitting president, while four emergencies have been declared.
The majority of the natural disasters are due to floods and storms, with a scattering of tornados, winter storms, and wind.
With the high percentage of natural disasters (compared to the national average) that residents of the Windy City may experience, additional insurance coverage for your vehicle may be something to consider. You want to know that if your car is damaged in a natural disaster, you have the protection included in your policy to cover that damage.
Comprehensive coverage is your best option for vehicle protection in the event of a natural disaster. You can speak to your insurance agent to find out what this will cost you and how to add it to your existing policy.
Is public transit available in Chicago?
If you want to beat the traffic and use alternative forms of transportation, you have a couple of options for public transit. The Windy City primarily offers buses, trains, and commuter rails through the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace.
On convenient payment option you have is to purchase a Ventra card. This pre-paid card allows you to pay for rides on the transportation options offered by all three transit entities. Once you’ve purchased a Ventra card, you can download the Ventra App to load ride passes, purchase mobile tickets, check schedules, and more.
You can purchase bus tickets using cash and coin (by purchasing a ticket as you board). For trains and commuter rails, you can purchase paper tickets, you can use a “contactless” bankcard or mobile pay app, and you can use the Ventra cards we already described.
The various transit entities all recommend users purchase tickets through the Ventra card, as it is the fastest and most efficient way. They even offer discounts to encourage this practice.
The CTA includes both city buses and the L-train (the CTA’s train system). Standard bus fare is $2.25, and standard L-train fare is $2.50 for one-way. The exception is L-train rides from O-Hare, which cost $5. You can purchase passes for various periods of time, but they must be loaded on a Ventra transit account. A one-day CTA pass costs $10, a three-day CTA pass costs $20, and a seven-day CTA pass costs $28.00.
Pace offers ride services on their Pace Suburban Bus system. For the average rider, fares cost $2.25 for a one-way, and if you use a Ventra card, your fare will be $2.00. A seven-day pass costs $33.00, while a 30-day pass costs $60.00.
CTA and Pace also offer a combined 30-day pass, which costs $105.00.
Metra is a commuter rail in Chicago. You can purchase one-way tickets, which cost between $4 and $8.25; 10-ride tickets, which cost between $38 and $90.25; weekend passes (which offer unlimited rides for a specific Saturday and Sunday) for $10; and monthly unlimited ride passes, which cost between $116 and $275.50. The variation in price depends on which routes and fare zones you’ll be using.
You can also purchase a Metra link-up pass for $55, which will allow you to also use Pace buses at any time and the CTA transit options during specific days and times.
Is other Alternate Transportation available in Chicago?
If you’d prefer some other forms of transportation besides trains, buses, or personal vehicles, you also have options like bicycles and scooters in Chicago. Both bicycles and scooters are available for use in the Windy City through a couple of different rental services.
Scooters can be rented through Lime, Bird, and a few other companies. However, their use is somewhat controversial, and a current topic of debate in Chicago. There may be some modifications to current laws coming down the line soon to better regulate the use and safety of motorized scooters in the city.
- Bird does not offer monthly passes or in Chicago. Instead, using the company’s app, you’ll spend $1 to unlock a scooter and pay somewhere between $0.10 and $0.33 per minute of riding.
- Lime uses a similar pricing structure, charging users $1 to unlock the scooter and an additional $0.15 to $0.30 per minute of riding.
If you’d prefer to rent a bicycle to make your way around the Windy City, you can do so through both Lime and Divvy.
Lime again offers rates based on an initial unlocking fee (similarly usually $1) and then an additional amount of money (varies depending on where you are, the traffic times, etc.) for the amount of time you spend using the bicycle (usually a per-minute rate).
Through Divvy, which is owned by Citi Bank, you can purchase single rides, day passes, and annual memberships for bicycle usage.
- A single ride (30 minutes or less) will cost $3; each additional 30 minutes will cost you another $3.
- A day pass, which offers you unlimited rides for 24 hours, will cost $15 (however, if any single ride lasts for longer than three hours, you may incur additional usage fees).
- An annual pass will cost you $99 and includes unlimited rides within the year of 45-minutes or less. If you plan to take a ride that is longer than 45 minutes, you’ll be charged a standard rate of $3 per additional 30 minutes.
One completely free way to get around the downtown area is to walk. This may seem obvious, but in the Central Business District specifically, Chicago has a network of connected overhead bridges and underground tunnels that traverse over 40 blocks and about five miles.
Is parking easy in Chicago?
Finding parking in any city can be difficult at times, and Chicago is no exception. Larger, more densely populated cities (like Chicago) in particular can mean an especially difficult and frustrating parking experience (which is one argument for alternative forms of transportation).
So what does parking look like in the Windy City? You already know parking is exasperating in the city, but what are your options if you do find parking? We’ve collected information on everything you need to know about the kinds of parking available, how much you can expect to pay, and more. Take a look.
Metered street parking is priced by the hour, and the rates vary depending on the location:
- Outside the Loop and Central Business District: $2 per hour
- Central Business District: $4.50
- Loop: $7
- Commercial loading zones: $14.00
The metered/street parking areas have on-street pay boxes as an option for payment. These allow you to pay with credit and debit cards as well as coins. The pay boxes are based on a pay-by-plate approach, which means you don’t need to put your parking receipt on your dashboard. Instead, the system enables parking enforcement to reconcile payment by license plate.
ParkChicago is the city’s app for paying parking fees for all metered parking and some of the parking lots owned by the city. You can also use the app to find available parking spaces (it specifically includes 36,000 city parking spots and allows you to see current and future availability for those spots), pricing, and parking hours.
When you use the app to pay for parking, if you’re parked for less than two hours, you’ll be charged a $0.35 convenience fee. If you’re parked for more than two hours, the convenience fee will be removed.
When it comes to electric vehicles, Chicago is a great place to own and drive one.
In fact, it ranks in the top 10 cities in the country for EV-friendliness. There are currently 421 level 2 charging stations and 61 fast-charging stations. And the city has plans to increase these numbers over the next few years. To find charging stations near you, you can use the Chicago Area Clean Cities charging stations map.
There are also numerous public parking garages throughout Chicago that are operated by the city. As you might expect, rates vary depending on where the garage is located, the time of day, demand for spots in the area, and more. Hourly rates can range between $5 and $60 per hour. Most also offer daily rates, which can vary quite dramatically as well (those rates are not as readily available, however).
SpotHero is one way you can book parking spots ahead of time.
They are a third-party company that works with parking organizations to provide a booking service. Once you’ve reserved a spot, they guarantee you a parking spot, otherwise, they’ll refund you. Prices for booking spots in Chicago vary depending on where you’re looking, the demand at the time you’re looking, and more. Prices can range between $7 and $50.
If you need to get a spot at Chicago O’Hare Airport, you have three primary options:
- Valet parking, $26 for zero to eight hours and $64 for eight to 24 hours
- Hourly lots, which typically start at $3 for the first hour, with increasing rates up to 24 hours. At 24 hours, you’ll be paying $77.
- Daily lots, which typically start at $3 for the first hour, and increase to between $15 and $42 per 24 hours, depending on the lot and how close it is to the airport
How is the air quality in Chicago?
Air quality and pollution are common topics of discussion both because of environmental considerations and for public health.
Its also generally accepted that vehicle emissions can be a contributor to air quality and long-term air pollution, though the extent to which it contributes is difficult to define (estimates are typically in the 33 percent range, however).
So how is this relevant for the Windy City? We looked at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Air Quality report for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area to understand the air quality statistics for the area better. We’ve summarized this data below.
|Year||Days with AQI||Days That Were Good||Days That Were Moderate||Days Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||Days Unhealthy||Days Very Unhealthy|
Please keep in mind the following notes:
- The air quality index (AQI) specifically calls out which days during the calendar year the air quality was tracked and recorded
- The 2019 data is still considered a draft, and will not be finalized by the EPA until May 2020
- No 2020 data was available when this article was written
With these caveats in mind, you can see, unfortunately, the days that were described as good decreased between 2017 and 2019. This is because the days that were considered moderate increased. On the positive side, the days considered unhealthy for sensitive groups decreased, and there were no days considered very unhealthy.
As we noted above, we all know vehicle emissions contribute to air pollution. But what, specifically, from vehicles negatively affects residents and the environment?
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are six primary contributors to pollution that can be attributed to vehicle emissions, which include:
- Particulate matter: includes soot from vehicle exhaust, diesel exhaust, etc., which can absorb into your lungs
- Volatile organic compounds: combined with nitrogen oxide and sunlight these transform into ground-level ozone, which can inflame the respiratory system
- Nitrogen oxides: this creates both ground-level ozone and particulate matter
- Carbon monoxide: if inhaled, this can stop oxygen from reaching your brain, heart, and organs
- Sulfur dioxide: typically results from burning diesel and coal, and creates particulates in the air that can be inhaled
- Greenhouse gases: this is largely carbon dioxide, which is most often tied to tailpipe emissions of vehicles. Experts link this to global warming
Insurance is required in Illinois if you own and operate a vehicle. And as you’ve already seen, insurance in the Windy City can be costly, and depending on your income, can end up costing you up to 11 percent of your take-home pay. But in some cases, you may qualify for discounts.
In particular, if you are an active or retired member of the military, some car insurance companies offer discounts on insurance premiums. And you’re probably aware, USAA specifically offers insurance for members of the military and their families. So what do insurance rates in the Windy City look like for members of the military and veterans?
We’ll start by looking at the demographics of veterans in Chicago. We’ve pulled statistics from DataUSA and summarized it below:
- World War II: 2,142
- Korea: 3,704
- Vietnam: 21,183
- Gulf War (1990s): 6,640
- Gulf War (2001+): 11,946
As you can see, the veterans from Vietnam far exceed the veterans from the other major conflicts. In fact, there are 77 percent more Vietnam veterans in Chicago than there are veterans from the Second Gulf War (the next most represented conflict).
The Naval Station Great Lakes is the primary base located within an hour of Chicago.
In several of the earlier sections, we’ve noted the major insurance companies in Chicago. Now we’ll find out which of these companies offer military discounts on their rates. Of the companies we’ve considered, the following offer military discounts:
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
As we noted earlier, USAA specifically offers insurance to military members and their families. We’ll take a moment to compare USAA’s rate, which is $2,770.21, to those average rates offered by the other companies in Illinois. Take a look:
|Provider||Rate||Compared to USAA (%)||Compared to USAA ($)|
As you can see, USAA’s rates are significantly better than four of the companies listed, almost equal to one company (Geico), and are actually more expensive than the remaining four companies.
Unique City Laws
Beyond laws set by the federal and state governments, in some cases, cities can set their own laws. So what laws do you have to follow in Chicago specifically?
We’ve collected some of the legal requirements for parking, driving, running mobile food businesses, and more in the Windy City, so read through this section to learn more about what you’ll need to know if you’re in the city.
Currently, there are no city-specific distracted driving laws on the books in Chicago, as the state laws regarding distracted driving take precedence. Across the state, all handheld use of cell phones is prohibited, except in an emergency situation.
Hands-free cellphone usage is permitted if you are age 19 or older, but drivers are cautioned that this is still dangerous, and is not recommended.
While food trucks are extremely popular throughout the country, Chicago has some of the more prohibitive laws in the country for operators within city boundaries.
All food truck operators are required to obtain a mobile food vendor license. This requires:
- An extensive application
- A department of health vehicle inspection
- Proof of commercial liability insurance of at least $350,000 per accident
Once the application is awarded by the commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection, a color-coded emblem indicating the business does one of the four operations:
- Mobile food preparer
- Mobile food dispenser
- Mobile desserts vendor
- Produce merchant business
The total number of mobile vendor licenses can be capped, based on safety and traffic congestion.
Food trucks are prohibited from operating within 200 feet of any brick and mortar restaurant or business that sells food. Additionally, certain areas of town are completely off limits for food truck operators.
The city also requires all mobile food vendors to install GPS tracking devices that must be enabled such that their location data is always available to the city.
Tiny houses have been grown in popularity over the past few years, and have sparked interest as a result of shows like Tiny House Nation. In general, they are defined as a mobile dwelling that has a footprint of 600 square feet or less.
Tiny houses are technically not legal in Chicago as full-time residences (which is common in larger cities, due to zoning requirements).
However, even though they’re not actually legal in the city, that doesn’t mean you can’t purchase one (though you’ll need to consider finding an alternative, non-Chicago location to park it). You can check out TinyHouseListings for currently available tiny houses in Chicago.
Because of the winter weather common in Chicago, the city implements seasonal parking laws. During the winter, snow plows operate regularly to keep the roads clean. As a result, during the winter, street parking is illegal any time there are more than two inches of snow in the ground. Additionally, overnight parking is banned during the winter to allow the city to operate snowplows during the nighttime hours.
Other Chicago parking laws include:
- Never park in a crosswalk, sidewalk, or parkway (including those that cross private driveways)
- Always park within 12 inches of the curb when parking on the street
- Always park in the same direction as the traffic flow when parking on the street
- Never park in bus or bicycle lanes
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Chicago Car Insurance FAQs
If you’ve made it this far, you know we’ve put together everything we think you need to commute, drive, and purchase insurance in Chicago. And while we’ve tried our best to make sure the guide is complete, we know you may still have questions.
To that end, we’ve included a few FAQs that answer some additional questions regarding driving and living in Chicago.
What are the car insurance requirements in Illinois?
If you do choose to own a vehicle in Chicago, you’ll be required to meet the Illinois state insurance requirements for coverage. This includes the following:
- Bodily injury per person of $25,000
- Bodily injury per accident of $50,000
- Property damage of $20,000
By maintaining at least this minimum level of liability coverage, you’ll avoid penalties like a suspension of your driver’s license and fines.
Is Chicago a good place to live?
U.S. News & World Report Real Estate study recently indicated that Chicago is in the top 125 places to live in the country, and is actually ranked number 65 for retirement. Additionally, as you saw earlier, both growth prosperity is on the rise in Chicago, and the industry and job markets are solid.
If you want to live in a big city, Chicago may also be a good option from the cost of living perspective. It is certainly not cheap to live in the Windy City, but the cost of living there is still significantly lower than in comparable cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.
In what time zone is Chicago?
Chicago is in the Central Standard time zone (GMT-6).
How many parks are in Chicago?
There are 570 parks in the city, which make up a combined total of over 7,600 acres.
Is the weather good in Chicago?
We briefly discussed weather averages in the city. However, to give you a better idea of weather throughout the year and the best times to visit or spend time outside, we’ve provided a bit more detail here.
Weather in Chicago is considered humid continental. It is also important to keep in mind that the city borders Lake Michigan, so beach breezes are common. By season:
- Spring is temperate but wet. A significant amount of rain falls in the late-spring (specifically May and June)
- Summer is both hot and humid, and the sun shines quite often
- Fall (also known as Autumn) is similar to Spring in that it is temperate, but there is less precipitation
- Winters are cold and wet, with high amounts of rain and snow
According to TripSavvy, the best times to visit, from the perspective of the weather, are late Spring and mid-Fall, but if you visit in the summer, you’ll have the opportunity to experience music, food, and cultural festivals.
Regardless of when you visit (or in the case of living there, always), you should pay attention when on the road (or the sidewalk), maintain situational awareness, follow all posted signs and warnings, and adjust your driving accordingly whenever lighting and weather changes.
Ready to get started? Take a moment to use your ZIP code to get a free quote on car insurance right now!