As of Feb. 22, there were 28 shootings on Illinois tollways and highways, compared to 41 by this time last year — a decline of around 32%, according to the most recent data on expressway shootings provided by the Illinois State Police.
The decline in shootings has been much starker on the Eisenhower Expressway. So far this year, there have been three shootings on the I-290, compared to 10 by this time last year — a decline of around 70%, according to ISP data.
The most recent shootings on I-290 happened on Jan. 21, Jan. 24 and Feb. 19. The Jan. 24 shooting happened near the eastbound Ashland exit ramp at 11:54 p.m. Injuries were reported in all three shootings.
Last year, there were 310 highway shootings in Illinois, compared to 147 in 2020 and 51 in 2019. On the Eisenhower, there were 51 in 2021, 28 in 2020 and six in 2019. Of the 536 highway shootings that have taken place from 2019 to Feb. 22 of this year, around 93% have been non-fatal and around 56% have resulted in injuries.
The I-94 Dan Ryan is the most dangerous expressway in the state in terms of shootings. There have been 124 shootings on that expressway since 2019. The Eisenhower has the second-most shootings among Illinois highways, with 88 since 2019. The roadway is followed by I-57 (84 shootings), I-94 Bishop Ford (67 shootings) and I-55 Stevenson (44 shootings).
So far this year, no fatalities have resulted from expressway shootings. At this point last year, there were six expressway shootings with fatalities and 24 in all of 2021.
“Does that indicate a trend?” Daily Herald reporter Marni Pyke mused in a Feb. 21 article.
“I think that remains to be seen,” ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly told her. “We’re utilizing every resource at our disposal to focus on the areas where we see the greatest amount of interstate shootings but we look for long-term trends.”
“I’m thinking shootings are down due more to the snowy weather in the city, rather than an increase in civility,” said veteran traffic and spot news reporter Kris Habermehl. “Feuds and bad blood continue unabated on social media, which oftentimes lead to expressway hits.”
Earlier this month, Gov. JB Pritzker held a news conference with Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly in Chicago in order to update the public on recent measures implemented to address the shootings.
Pritzker and Kelly pointed out that 20 arrests had been made in recent months related to the shootings and other crime and that 99 cameras equipped with automatic license plate readers had been installed on the Dan Ryan expressway, with “hundreds more coming,” according to Capitol News Illinois.
Kelly added that his agency “increased patrol presence on Chicago expressways by over 150 percent at ‘peak criminal activity times,’” Capitol News reported. “Since October, that has led to nearly 5,000 traffic stops, 132 DUI arrests, 69 firearm recoveries and 133 criminal arrests in the Chicago area.”