Local government officials often respond to traffic safety concerns after a public outcry over injuries or deaths from auto or pedestrian accidents. At least one Cook County community is not waiting until a crash occurs to take action. Orland Park is stepping up enforcement of a state law that local residents complain village drivers are ignoring.
Illinois lawmakers upgraded a traffic law three years ago that changed how drivers should respond to people on foot. Drivers must stop completely -- not just slow down and yield -- for people in a crosswalk. Chicago motorists who violate the law may be fined as much as $500. Orland Park is hoping enhanced police monitoring helps to prevent pedestrian accidents.
Public safety officials and village police won't wait until pleasant seasonal weather swells the population of Orland Park walkers. The project will focus on five intersections, including crossroads frequented by students and Metra Train travelers. Local authorities will step up enforcement as soon as new signs are posted and fresh crosswalk paint is applied.
Police throughout the state have the authority to issue tickets for crosswalk rule violators. Orland Park officials think driver warnings may be enough to effect a change in bad habits.
Warnings and fines are not the only consequences for negligent drivers. Serious criminal charges may follow when a traffic law violation leads to injury or death.
A jury in civil court bases its decision on whether negligence was present at the time a victim was harmed. The presence of a crosswalk may not sway a ruling, unless the defendant is a government entity that knew or should have known a traffic situation was unsafe.
Motorists are not the only ones who can be faulted for careless behavior or taken to court for personal injuries and deaths. Community leaders are as obligated to protect the public from hazards as drivers are bound to follow the traffic laws that governments impose upon them.
Source: articles.chicagotribune.com, "Orland Park steps up protection of pedestrians," Dennis Sullivan, April 3, 2013