Police target motorists who don't stop for pedestrians

June 9, 2008 2:50:43 PM PDT
Perhaps you're in a hurry, maybe you just don't see them. But if you fail to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, you're breaking the law. Some Chicago police officers went undercover to catch some offenders.

When you see someone standing at an intersection, what do you do? Keep an eye on him or her as the pedestrian watches you pass, or do you stop to allow the pedestrian to cross? The latter is the law. On Monday, some Chicagoans were put to the test.

For many Chicagoans, the day begins with a walk to school or the bus that inevitably involves crossing a street. When an officer isn't present, do motorists really stop for pedestrians?

On the Northwest Side Monday morning, an undercover police office posed as a pedestrian. He tried several times to cross, but most motorists didn't stop. Waiting a block away were some officers offering instruction on the law.

"It doesn't have to be a light. It doesn't' have to be an intersection. If someone's on the corner trying to cross, that is your warning to yield. You are supposed to stop and let the people cross," said Officer Grace Delgado, Chicago Police Department.

Most motorists pulled over say they didn't know.

"That's odd. I mean, well, now I know. I'm sorry," said William Johnson.

"Normally you'd think people would stop and wait for traffic to not be there and then walk across the street. And he was just randomly walking across, so I learned something," said Elisa Chessen.

"You can't get across the street anymore in Chicago. You get older you're never gonna make it. It's very, very bad. It's the first time I realize they're gonna enforce it, and they should be," said Clinton Marshall.

There were some saying they didn't see the mock pedestrian.

"I'm usually observant. I usually catch that. I can't believe I did that. So, I'll have to go back and see where he is, to be honest," said Chris Hohe.

And some expected the pedestrian to wait.

"Pedestrians should be more careful. If the are cars coming in a flow, then they should wait and then they should cross. Right now I'm driving, but later today, I'll be a pedestrian myself. And if I'm going to be butting into traffic, traffic is going to jam," said Ozzie Quadri.

Regardless of rationale, city officials want Monday's warning heard citywide. So far this year, 30 pedestrians have been struck and killed by vehicles in Chicago.

Last year, less than two miles from Monday's operation a grandmother and her grandson were hit crossing Fullerton at a crosswalk.

"Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and it's the responsibility of the motorists to yield to pedestrians and give them the right of way," said Falon Michalic, Northwest Chicago Drive with Care.

"It's a very critical responsibility and really requires a driver to pay attention to everyone else out on the street," said Brian Steele, Chicago Dept. of Transportation.

"As gas prices continue to go up, we're going to see more people on bicycles and more people walking. And so, it's really important that motorists are more aware than ever," said Ald. Ray Colon, 35th Ward.

During the hour and a half operation, more than 100 motorists didn't stop. On Monday, they got warnings. But there will be 20 crosswalk enforcement operations between now and October. Tickets range from $25 to 500.

There will be one other informational operation at Lawndale and Milwaukee next Tuesday morning.


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