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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

DeKalb sees an increase in car crashes

Different graphs shows car crash data from 2023 in DeKalb. In 2023, DeKalb had 580 more crashes than 2013. (Northern Star graphic)

DeKALB – As DeKalb has seen a flood of new drivers on its streets, statistics show that car accidents have risen 126% since 2013.

DeKalb Police Department Commander Steve Lekkas provided background on the notable car crashes and traffic statistics that occurred in the decade between 2013 and 2023.

The city of DeKalb saw 1,039 car crashes compared to the 459 crashes that occurred in 2013. Of the 1,039 crashes, 873 included property damage to the vehicles or belongings in the vehicles, while 162 resulted in injuries. Only four fatalities occurred from these accidents.

Lekkas said a number of factors have contributed to the increase in collisions.

“The difference with our crashes is that we may have more frequency, but outside of DeKalb, there tends to be more violent crashes,” Lekkas said. “Like out in the county they deal with a lot more serious crashes and fatalities than we do. We may get one or two a year the county may get 10 to 15 fatal crashes a year because speeds are way higher out in the county.”

Lekkas attributed the increase in accidents to an increase in commuters entering DeKalb’s workforce and attending NIU.

“Before, you know, people were working locally or whatever, but now we’re getting a lot of people from out of town,” Lekkas said. “Clearly a lot more kids are commuting every day instead of staying on campus or off campus.”

Around 16.8% of crashes involved a driver who was 18 to 24 years old in 2023. The second highest age group was adults between the ages of 25 and 29.

Similarly, 17.4% of drivers between 18 to 21 were involved in accidents in 2013, while drivers between 22 and 24 years old were involved in the highest amounts.

Most crashes happen between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. when people are likely to depart from work or school.

“It used to be a lot of crashes would happen at like two in the morning because that’s when the bars would let out,” Lekkas said. “That’s gotten a lot better now with Uber, you know, people are a lot more careful about not getting DUIs.”

While the DeKalb PD uses accident reports to compare crash trends in DeKalb, Lekkas said it is the department’s job to then implement changes or more precautions if similar accidents continue occurring.

Lekkas noted the intersection between Lincoln Highway and Peace Road has the highest number of accidents of any intersection in DeKalb because most drivers fail to decrease their speed when turning off of Illinois Route 38.

“Those are things we track and then once we do identify a problem area, we’ll either enforce it with extra enforcement so people are like, ‘OK, I got to slow down here,’” Lekkas said.

The DeKalb PD does not have an assigned traffic unit because of the limited number of officers on the staff.

“That’s something we’re building back toward,” Lekkas said. “We get so many complaints for traffic issues, we just don’t have enough manpower to deal with it and the manpower we do have is dealing with more high priority things like somebody’s having a domestic – there might be a fight or something like that.”

To combat the growing amount of collisions, Lekkas tells drivers to think about the extra minutes they are saving by putting themselves at risk.

“Don’t be in a rush,” Lekkas said. “I mean, if you get in a crash or you get pulled over, you’re not going to get there anyways.”

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