You may have noticed since July throughout the City of Chicago as part of an ongoing effort to increase pedestrian safety and reduce the number of crashes, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has begun installing signs at crosswalks that remind drivers of the state law that requires them to stop if pedestrians are in the crosswalk.

CDOT records suggest that an average of 50 people die annually in accidents between autos and pedestrians. Recently the City of Chicago began implementation of the Department of Transportation’s long-term pedestrian plan. You may have noticed better marked crosswalks. This, and more than 250 other recommendations for long and short-term improvements, have been drawn up to support the nearly two-year-old Illinois state law that requires drivers to stop and not just yield at crosswalks when pedestrians are physically in them.  Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB 43 into law requiring, among other things, that drivers to come to a complete stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks even when there is not a stop sign or traffic light. The penalty for failing to stop is a traffic citation ranging from of $50 to $500.

The City Traffic Management Authority said pedestrians must also assume some responsibility; they are working on plans to improve pedestrian compliance with traffic laws. It is being stressed to traffic-control aides that they must do a better job of stopping pedestrians from crossing against traffic lights. Pedestrians do not have the automatic right-of-way. The law states that a person should not leave the curb or sidewalk if their movement constitutes an undue hazard. This means that if a vehicle is approaching at the posted legal speed limit, a pedestrian cannot step out into the street if the vehicle does not have adequate time to stop. This also means that drivers do not have to stop for people waiting at the curb, in order to let them cross if the traffic light is in favor of the driver.