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When Is the Best Time to Drive Through Chicago?

Published on Dec 10, 2021 at 2:15 pm in Car Accidents.

City of Chicago

Whether you’re a resident, new to the city, or just passing through Chicago, one thing you should expect when you’re driving in the city is traffic. It’s incredibly frustrating to sit in and hard to avoid, but you want to do your best. That way, you can be less stressed getting to your destination and stay away from as many other drivers as possible.

Nobody wants to sit in slow-moving or standstill traffic. That’s why we’ve compiled information to help you know the best time to drive through Chicago. Let’s take a look at some tips that could help you avoid dangerous and high-traffic hours in our city.

Knowing Chicago’s Rush Hours

Driving in cities can be hard—especially if you’re driving through Chicago at the wrong time. If it’s your first time driving in Chicago, you might be incredibly intimidated and want to know the best times to drive through the city so you can be as safe and stress-free as possible. Even if you’ve lived in Chicago for years and have a good grasp on what times are best, it’s always helpful to have a refresher.

During the week, the morning rush hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. This is when people are generally going to work and starting their days, which causes lanes going toward the city to back up. However, lanes leaving the city are likely to be clear.

Although it’s not quite rush hour, around lunch time things can get hectic as well. Between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., traffic can increase since people are out getting food or running other errands. Traffic is also likely building for later when the next rush hour hits.

During the week, the evening rush hours are from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. This is when everyone is moving through the city to go home or attempting to leave the city to get back to the suburbs. This means traffic will be heavy, if not stopped, leaving the city. But it will likely be less intense when driving toward the city, depending on your route.

Additionally, the hours between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. can sometimes be busy because of airport traffic. Flights can leave late at night or be arriving late, which could make this time congested for people going to the airport. This is another time period drivers should consider.

Knowing these times when traffic is at its worst, the best times to drive through Chicago on weekdays are typically:

  • Before 5 a.m.
  • Between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.
  • Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Now that you know when to drive in the city during the week, let’s take a look at weekends and other times you need to know when to avoid high-traffic times.

Other Times to Avoid Driving Through Chicago

Weekdays are easier to predict in terms of rush hours and when people will be out and about in Chicago because most people are travelling to and from work. Weekends are a bit more unpredictable. These times can be harder to anticipate since people follow their own schedules on the weekends. Realistically, any time can be busy on the weekends.

Sundays are typically free of heavy traffic most of the day. But Saturdays can be congested. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or brunch and lunch times, you might experience some delays and traffic. However, after 2 p.m., roads typically clear up.

Travelling for the holidays in Chicago makes traffic a whole different beast. If you thought Friday afternoon traffic on a regular weekday was hectic, then a Friday before a holiday, or the last working day before a holiday, can easily outdo it.

Typically during holiday traffic, on the last days of work when everyone is travelling, the worst time and place for traffic is between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on I-90 between West Roosevelt Road and I-294. This means that the best times for you to drive on holiday travel days are around 2 p.m. or after 7 p.m.

All of these predictions can be helpful, but it’s best to look at local news articles and broadcasts closer to your anticipated trip where you’ll be driving through Chicago. That way, you get the most updated information about traffic expectations in the city—whether it’s during a holiday or just a regular week.

What If You Can’t Avoid Traffic?

No matter how diligently you plan and how much research you can do about the best time to drive in Chicago, you still may not be able to avoid city traffic. Here are some tips for you if you end up sitting in city traffic:

  • Pay attention to the flow of traffic and drive according, not necessarily by speed limit signs
  • Watch for stopped vehicles
  • Know where you’re going and get into the proper lane early
  • Stay patient—you can’t make it go faster
  • Don’t get on your phone—handheld devices are illegal in Illinois
  • Pay attention to bicyclists and pedestrians

Other situations you need to consider are emergencies. If you experience a roadside emergency while driving in Chicago, you might not know what to do. When you’re in serious traffic, it can be even more stressful dealing with an emergency.

You’ll want to get out of the lanes of traffic as best as possible, call 911, give them the information they need, and wait patiently for assistance. With traffic, it might take longer for help to come. If you’re having a health emergency, make sure to tell the 911 operator so they know it’s time-sensitive.

Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys Can Help You After a Traffic Accident

Traffic can make situations much worse, whether you’re in a rush or have no time limits—it’s stressful regardless. When that traffic leads to an accident, you could use legal help. At Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys, our car accident lawyer is prepared to guide you every step of the way when filing a car accident claim.

We understand how an accident can upend your life. That’s why we’re here to support you through your claim and get you justice. Contact our office today so we can schedule a free consultation.

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