Crosswalks And Pedestrians--Motorist Compliance
The Illinois law requiring drivers to stop at crosswalks for pedestrians seems to be a rumor to many drivers, despite being in existence for the past four (4) years. A recent Chicago Tribune article, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/jonhilkevitch/ct-crosswalk-survey-getting-around-met-0908-20140907-column.html, highlighted a study that found that only about 6 of 10 drivers stopped. And these were at painted crosswalks that also had safety features, such as "stop for pedestrians" signs, brick, stone, or raised crosswalk pavement, or flashing lights.
Crosswalk Compliance--From Bad to Worse
The number plunged pathetically to fewer than 2 in 10 for pedestrians crossing at a plain, painted crosswalk, and even worse, down to 5% at unmarked crosswalks.
If you drive in any locales where pedestrians exist, which is pretty much everywhere, you should be aware of the law, as well as be alert and aware that pedestrians, not you, have the right of way.
Why Is This Law Ignored?
Everyone is familiar with the old saw, "ignorance of the law is no defense." Yet, in this case, many seem ignorant of the existence of the law itself, not to mention when it applies.
When Should I Stop?
Discussion of the compliance figures above illustrates the fact that crosswalks containing more signage and other bells and whistles lead to more motorists stopping for pedestrians. But even at those intersections, this begs the question of who is considered a pedestrian at a crosswalk.
For instance, you are driving along a busy commercial thoroughfare, you see the crosswalk, replete with "stop for pedestrians" signs, and you now scan both sides of the street up to and including the sidewalks for people who either are crossing, or intend to cross the street. This takes away from your vision of the road. It can get downright difficult to focus on the car in front of you, along side of you, plus pedestrians.
While intended to improve safety for pedestrians, this well-intentioned law may actually distract drivers from driving.
Also, if a person is standing on the curb, does this make him or her a pedestrian waiting/intending to cross the street, or does it make that person someone waiting for a bus or a friend? It is not always so easy to distinguish for drivers.
Potential Inconvenience Versus The Alternative
The law can slow traffic, create bottlenecks, and frustrate drivers. It may actually make us drivers pay more attention to the road and focus on driving.
So much for the negatives.
Now, let's concentrate on the purpose of the law. To save lives.
Think of the horrific results of NOT heeding the law. Right now, I am representing several people who were struck by motor vehicles while walking across streets in crosswalks. In fact, this occurs frequently.
Do you really want to arrive at your destination a few minutes earlier, or do you want to run over (and possibly maim or kill) a pedestrian?
It is an easy choice, isn't it?
Common Sense Codified
What once was assumed, that we would not look at phones or text while driving, that we would be on the lookout for pedestrians, has now become black letter law.
The simple fact is, not enough of us are exercising reasonable caution and common sense while driving. The anti-texting laws, crosswalk law, and other legislative actions of recent vintage, are nothing more than expressions of frustration at our own idiocy.
It is time for drivers to pay attention.
Crosswalks and Pedestrians--What You, The Driver, Must Do:
- Scan the road for upcoming crosswalks, marked, unmarked, with or without signage, and be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
- Be mindful of pedestrians. Not just those directly in front of you, but those who are "potential pedestrians," meaning they are about to cross the street and require a clear path in front of you, which you are obligated to provide.
- Do not drive fast in zones frequented by pedestrians, and with a large number of crosswalks; you will be slowing and stopping regularly.
- Be alert for other vehicles that are NOT paying attention, and be able to get out of their way in case you stop and they do not.
- Stay safe, be safe, be mindful, use common sense and common courtesy, in traffic and in life.