The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

September 25, 2010

Laws made to protect pedestrians

DANVILLE — This is the year of the pedestrian as state law was passed to protect those who aren’t behind the wheel.

Illinois House Bill 43 passed through both sides of the General Assembly earlier this year and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on July 22.

Bringing Illinois in line with a number of other states, the bill amended the Illinois Vehicle Code to state that vehicles must stop and yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk where traffic signals are not present rather than simply slowing down or stopping if need be.

When Megan Wernigk comes out of work in the afternoon, there are two separate streets she can cross. And neither crosswalk, in her opinion, offers much safety.

As an employee at the Vermilion County Courthouse, Wernigk parks each day either across busy East Main Street or a block away in the Walnut Street parking garage. She’s part of a crowd that filters out of the courthouse each day and she said most of the time she takes the crosswalk across East Main Street.

Being in the crosswalk doesn’t mean the drivers are paying more attention, she said.

“Ninety-eight percent of them don’t let you cross before they pull into the road as they’re turning,” she said. “I just don’t think they care.”

She said using the crosswalk that goes across the midway point of the first block of North Vermilion Street doesn’t ensure safety either. Wernigk’s experiences make her think that many aren’t familiar with state law.

“I don’t think that they do,” she said. “As you walk across the street, (drivers) think they have the right of way and they don’t.”

The state law passed in July carries with it a potential fine of up to $150.

Danville Department of Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said most drivers are paying attention to people crossing the street.

“In general, most people are yielding to pedestrians when they see them in the crosswalk,” he said. “Overall it comes down to paying attention when driving.”

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