Pro-Pedestrian Law Passes Illinois Senate, Heads To Quinn’s Desk
Drivers Must Stop For Pedestrians At Every Crosswalk
A bill which makes a dramatic change in how motorists drive and interact with their pedestrian counterparts, is headed to the Governor’s desk.
Illinois House Bill 43, which passed the state Senate Thursday, makes changes to the present law that will soon require vehicles to come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk.
This includes ALL crosswalks–marked or unmarked where there’s not a stop sign or traffic light.
For years, Illinois law only required that motorists “yield” to pedestrians in crosswalks which according to proponents of the bill, lead to confusion on how it should be enforced.
“We’re not creating a new law,” says Illinois Senator Heather Steans (7th District). “All this law changes is ‘yield’ to ‘stop’”–it makes it a lot clearer.”
Margo O’Hara, spokesperson for the Active Transportation Alliance, the pro-biking and pedestrian group that spearheaded the legislation, points to the 6000 pedestrians hit by vehicles each year in Illinois as justification for the law. With over 1000 of those pedestrians struck were seriously injured and 171 people killed last year, O’Hara believes this change in the law is necessary to protect people.
“This is a clarifying law that prioritizes people on he streets and clarifies driver responsibility,” explains O’Hara. “Because the driver is operating a two ton vehicle, and drivers are licensed, the law prioritizes (the road) for the most vulnerable.”
Drivers could be ticketed anywhere from $50 to $500 for violating the law in Chicago, according to the CDOT website.
Steans admits that Illinois motorists will need to make a dramatic change to the way they drive in regards to pedestrians. Pedestrians, especially on busy streets, have had to wait while cars whiz by and until traffic has cleared before they could cross the street at a crosswalk without a traffic signal.
Drivers, after the bill is signed, will have to come to a complete stop, even on busy streets, when pedestrians approach the entrance of a crosswalk to traverse that street–even if there are no signs. Keep in mind that on a typical busy Chicago thoroughfare, every block between signalized intersections has a crosswalk. Meaning, at peak pedestrian times, drivers theoretically could be stopping to allow people to cross at every corner.
This new driving reality may take time to sink in for drivers, who are used to the previous policy where pedestrians are subordinate to motorized vehicles.
The new law may also be confusing to drivers initially, especially if there are no signs.
Steans says she’s considering, “Putting a trailer bill together to add signage, but I don’t want to create a big burden of cost. It’s definitely something I want to look into.”
This new law will become effective immediately, if signed by Gov. Quinn, according to the Illinois General Assembly website. The Governor has 60 days to sign the bill.